ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 2, 2017) – Jockey Chris Emigh recorded his 1,000th victory at Arlington International Racecourse in a thrilling finish aboard American Star Racing Stable’s Baltic Star in Sunday’s finale. The 46-year-old veteran jockey entered the stretch second behind an open-lengths leader and rallied his mount to close the distance as the crowd’s roar grew with every stride until he hit the wire a nose in front.
“I thought it could set up for me, and down the backside I was singing the song they were singing, ‘Baby Blue,’ or something,” said Emigh. “So I was singing on the backside trying to stay calm. And then I thought I had a little shot, but I knew it would be close. I think I was getting more tired than the horse though. I was trying hard.”
Born in Portsmouth, Virginia, Emigh rode his first graded-stakes winner in 1996 aboard Come On Flip in the Grade III Hawthorne Gold Cup after moving from Louisiana to ride in Chicago. His first Arlington title came in 2006 when he brought home 110 wins in the season, topped by a score in the Grade III Modesty Handicap aboard Chic Dancer. Emigh captured his 3,500th career win in the 2014 Grade III Washington Park Handicap at Arlington aboard Avanzare for trainer Tom Proctor.
“It took a few days longer than I thought it would,” said Emigh. “But it was twenty years of a lot of broken bones, surgeries and fighting for the wins every day – just like how I had to fight for that one and beat one of the best.”
Emigh now has 3,773 total lifetime wins and became only the fifth rider to win 1,000 races at Arlington, joining Earlie Fires, Pat Day, Carlos Silva and Mark Guidry.