Jockey Rafael Bejarano
earned the 3,000th victory of his career when 1-2 favorite Ondine won the first race Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The milestone in the $54,000 allowance came less than 12 years after the 30-year-old native of Arequipa, Peru began his career. He won his first race – aboard his initial mount – Dec. 8, 2001 at Hipodromo de Monterrico in Lima.
A winner of four riding titles at Betfair Hollywood Park, Bejarano is the leading jockey at the current Spring/Summer meet. The 3 ¾ length length win by Ondine, a 3-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert for Peachtree Stable, was Bejarano’s 16th as he attempts to defend his crown. He ran away with the 2012 Spring/Summer championship, finishing with 74 victories, 25 more than runner-up Edwin Maldonado.
“I’m so happy to do this in front of my friends and people who have always supported me, especially my agent (Joe Ferrer) and valet (Armando Sanchez),’’ said Bejarano. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities since I’ve come to California.
“I’m really happy for this moment. A week ago somebody told me I only needed seven or eight to get to 3,000, so I was starting to get excited and preparing for it. Nobody can get to 3,000 that easy and I’m really honored to be here.’’
The win was the 571st for Bejarano at Hollywood Park. He’s been a regular at the historic track since the 2007 Autumn meet.