From the Jockeys Guild
Coady PhotographyJockey Junior Alvarado won his 1,000th race in North America on Monday at Saratoga Race Course, guiding Skerkis to an easy victory in the fourth race.

Backed at 9-2 in the $50,000 maiden claiming race for 2-year-olds, Skerkis settled behind a three-way scramble for the early lead in fourth, came four wide to offer his bid nearing the quarter-pole, and took over in midstretch en route to an easy score. His final time for six furlongs was 1:11.52.

“He was pretty sharp,” said Alvarado. “Then I kind of sat down on him. When I started asking, he didn’t respond very well, but as I started going with the whip, he kind of turned into another horse. He was responding pretty well.”

“As soon as I turned for him and hit him a couple times, he responded right away, and I said, ‘We’re going to get it now!'” the rider added. “I’ve got to keep riding and winning; that’s how I’m celebrating.”

Skerkis is trained by Ken McPeek for Sylly Horses Stable.

Earlier in the meet, Alvarado, 28, picked up the biggest win of his career when he guided Moreno to a front-running score in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Whitney on August 2. He currently is eighth in the Saratoga jockey standings with 15 victories.

“It always comes when I least expect it. I’ve been [on 999] since Friday with a lot of good mounts, good horses, expecting this one will be the one,” said Alvarado. “It seems like it was forever. I couldn’t get it done Saturday. Yesterday, I got a good chance and I couldn’t either. I wasn’t expecting it at all with this one, but that’s how it worked out.”

Alvarado began his career in his native Venezuela in 2005 and rode his first winner in the United States in February 2007. After riding successfully in Chicago, he moved his tack to New York full time late in 2010. Top wins for Alvarado include the 2010 Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park with Éclair de Lune and 2013 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack with Flat Out. At Saratoga, he has won the 2012 Grade 1 Prioress with Emma’s Encore and 2013 Grade 1 Forego with Strapping Groom in addition to his 2014 Whitney victory.