The only jockey to win four stakes last weekend, Nik Juarez was a strong contender on the Jockey of the Week ballot. His aggressive schedule last week began with Parx on Tuesday, followed by Belmont on Wednesday and Thursday, Keeneland on Friday, Laurel on Saturday and back to Belmont on Sunday.
Juarez was at Laurel to ride in four of the 11 stakes on the card for Maryland Million Day. Of his four starts, he was only out of the money once, and managed to win three stakes, including the feature event, the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic Stakes, with Bonus Points ($8.40). In the Classic, the pair overcame a bumped start and tight quarters in the field of eleven to pull ahead by nearly three lengths.
Juarez’ day began with a win in the $100,000 Maryland Million Nursery aboard first-time starter Clever Mind ($16.80), who passed heavy favorite Jamaican Don in the stretch to win by two lengths. His second win came in the $125,000 Maryland Million Turf Stakes, this time in a wire-to-wire victory with Spartianos, ($7.60) winning by a head in a close finish among three evenly-matched co-favorites.
Juarez shipped to Belmont to ride on Sunday and won the feature race of the card, the $100,000 English Channel Stakes. Juarez upset the field aboard the fast closing Dalarna, a $40.40 winner.
A third-generation jockey, Juarez was the third leading rider among North American jockeys by stakes earnings last week, with $271,745 in his six stakes starts. He was fourth overall by total earnings, having earned $353,182. He won six races in 26 starts, giving him a win rate of 23% and an in the money rate of 31%.
The Maryland native has won 162 of his 938 starts this year, with $5.3 million in earnings. His lifetime earnings total just under $14 million in 2,968 starts.
Juarez recently made headlines for arranging the purchase and retirement of Valid, a multiple stakes-winning millionaire who also gave Juarez his first graded stakes victory. Valid had been sold privately last year and was spotted running at Fonner Park and Arapahoe, winless and earning just $3,000 in three starts. Juarez and Valid won the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) in 2015 and the Skip Away Stakes (G3) in 2016; Valid now lives in Maryland as a riding horse for Juarez.
Since his first graded victory with Valid, Juarez has won several other graded events, including the biggest race of his career to date earlier this year, the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) at Pimlico, aboard Actress ($27.60) for trainer Jason Servis.
JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, The Daily Racing Form, Equibase, Horse Racing Nation, The Jockeys’ Guild, The Paulick Report, The Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.