At the age of 9, Ruben Alvarado and a brother only a few years older left their native El Salvador after being orphaned by the violence of the Civil War there. They made their way through three countries to reach the United States and, for Ruben, a life in horse racing that is about to reach a height that is the stuff of any immigrant’s dreams.
With 44 years of experience as an assistant on his resume – 30 for the late trainer Don Warren and the venerable California stable Old English Rancho, and 14 for Peter Miller – Alvarado, 52, is taking over the daily duties at Miller’s stable when Miller takes his announced step back from training at the end of the current meeting.
Alvarado and Miller, three years older, met when they were both working for Warren. Alvarado recalled appreciating Miller’s youthful enthusiasm while teaching him a lot of the basic duties around the barn. Eventually, Miller recalled, “I was an assistant, galloping horses and a pony boy and he was a stable foreman.”
Alvarado stayed in the employ of Warren, who he says was “More like a father than a boss to me,” through the early 2000s. Miller went on to work for trainers Charlie Whittingham and Mike Mitchell before striking out on his own. Alvarado said he was pleased when he ran into Miller one morning at Hollywood Park in the late 1980s and Miller announced, “Hey, I’ve got my first horse.”
Alvarado was working in the Midwest in 2008 when Miller called with a job offer at a time when Miller’s operation was starting to pick up steam in terms of numbers of horses and success. Now it competes regularly at tracks in California, Kentucky, and Arkansas and has had representation as far away as Dubai.
“We’ve been a good team,” Alvarado said. “Like everybody (in the business) we’ve had good times and bad times. I hope (taking over) that with a little bit of luck and faith to keep things going.”
“Ruben is a helluva horseman,” Miller said. “He’s a hard worker. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him and the clients, who know him well, have too.”