Eclipse Award-winning aprentice rider Christian Santiago Reyes is certainly a quick study. Making a big splash in a big pond, the bug boy won with his second career mount April 12 at Gulfstream Park for trainer Wesley Ward. Considering Ward won the Eclipse Award as the leading apprentice rider in 1984, Reyes was wise to follow his advice, so instead of staying in the Sunshine State, he shifted his tack to Kentucky. It was under the Twin Spires where he caught fire and racked up 12 wins during the spring/summer stand.
Reyes headed west following the Churchill Downs meet and teamed with longtime agent Tony Matos, who touted Reyes as the best apprentice he’s handled since Corey Nakatani. Reyes finished in the top 10 in the jockey standings at Del Mar, Fairplex Park (finishing second with 20 wins from 105 mounts), Oak Tree at Santa Anita, and the Hollywood fall meet.
For the year, Reyes led all other apprentice riders with $2.4 million in earnings and won 94 races from 735 mounts. Fellow nominee Luis Batista led apprentices with 116 wins from 890 mounts.
Beyond quantity, Reyes has displayed quality efforts aboard his mounts, notching his first stakes win aboard Bench the Judge Oct. 3 in the Bob Benoit Cal Cup Juvenile. Not bad for a 19-year-old rider who will carry his apprentice weight allowance until May of this year.
Prior to coming to the U.S. in January, Reyes spent two years in training at the jockey school in Puerto Rico.
First-place vote totals: Christian Santiago Reyes, 93; Luis Saez, 48; Luis Batista, 47; Inez Karlsson, 8; Michael Straight, 4; Omar Moreno, 3; Jose Vega, 3; Tony Maragh, 2; Casey Papineau, 1; Angel Serpa, 1.