With Venezuelan jockeys Ramon Dominguez and
Junior Alvarado holding the first- and third-place positions in the Aqueduct
Racetrack inner-track jockey standings, 20-year-old apprentice Samuel Camacho
will attempt to emulate his fellow countrymen and find success competing
against New York’s
deep riding colony.
Camacho – whose father, Samuel, Sr., was a jockey in Venezuela – grew up in Caracas and is a graduate of his native
country’s jockey school. He competed in his homeland for 1 ½ years before
he brought his tack to Gulfstream
Park in late 2011. Jockey
Eibar Coa, another Venezuelan, has served as Camacho’s mentor and recommended
that the apprentice relocate to New
York for the winter.
Mike Monroe, Camacho’s agent since his move to New York, said he decided to take the
apprentice’s book after the young rider received endorsements from Coa,
Dominguez, and Alvarado.
“With those three recommending him, I thought I better take a
good look at him,” said Monroe.
Camacho started riding at Aqueduct on January 15, and through February
24 has compiled a record of 11 wins from 84 starts, good for 10th place
in the inner-track standings, despite having missed the first six weeks of the
“I’m happy to be here, and it’s a dream come
true,” said Camacho of his early success in New York.
With Coa remaining in Florida,
Dominguez and Alvarado have taken his place, offering Camacho advice and
“He’s from Venezuela,
but we try to help any bug rider if we can,” said Dominguez. “Every
time he rides, if there is something we think he did wrong, we try to talk to
him. We hope he continues to improve, and he’s already shown he can do
it. Usually the first thing you teach the bug riders is how to keep horses
straight, but we also tell them if they are moving a little too early.
We’re constantly going over the races. You can see improvement, and the
most important thing is confidence, and that comes with winning more races.
He’s become more confident out there, and it shows.”
Seven of Camacho’s 11 wins have come aboard horses trained by
Gary Contessa, who has given the apprentice 23 mounts since his arrival in New York, more than any
“He has a lot of ability, and I like his cool on a horse,”
said Contessa. “I use his agent a lot, but I do like the rider. He has a
lot of patience. If he keeps riding like the way he’s riding for me,
I’ll keep riding him.”
Randi Persaud, another trainer who has used Camacho extensively, sees a
bright future ahead for the apprentice.
“He’s very, very patient,” said Persaud. “I
love him. He’s very patient, tries hard, and finishes strongly. Even
after he loses his bug he’s going to be a great rider.”