True to form, jockey Jose Ferrer displayed a minimum of emotion after reaching the 4,000-win milestone Feb. 14 aboard 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Rocket Bottle in the fifth race at Tampa Bay Downs.
But his fellow riders, family members, and friends could feel his joy, sense of achievement, and rapid heartbeat as he entered the winner’s circle to the applause from a crowd of 3,618.
“Just to get the opportunity to be a part of this sport, at 51, and keep doing it the way I’m doing it, God has blessed me to continue,” said the native of Santurce, Puerto Rico, who won the fourth and fifth races back-to-back to reach the milestone. “The man upstairs has given me the strength and courage to keep going, and I appreciate it more than I did when I was younger.”
The winner’s circle was a sea of humanity after milestone win, as the entire jockey colony, Ferrer’s wife, Steffi, and their two sons—18-month-old Derek and infant Joseph—greeted him.
Ferrer also won Sunday’s fourth race on the turf aboard 3-year-old Florida-bred filly Dance N Denae for owner Ridenjac Racing and trainer Dennis Ward. He was confident aboard Robert G. Smith’s Rocket Bottle in the next race, as she was cutting back in distance from seven furlongs to 5 1/2 on the main track, a distance at which they had just missed breaking her maiden Jan. 3.
Ferrer’s victory total includes six officially credited victories at Camarero Race Track in Puerto Rico; he began riding in the United States in 1982 at Monmouth Park.
Ferrer is currently tied for sixth in the current Tampa Bay Downs standings with 18 victories.