BALTIMORE – Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado celebrated his full-time return to the Maryland circuit in style on Friday, riding even-money favorite La Madrina to victory in the featured eighth race at Pimlico Race Course.
Prado, 48, had spent the last year and a half riding primarily in South Florida before deciding to go back to where he made his mark in the United States. The native of Peru dominated Maryland for a decade, winning 24 riding titles at Pimlico and Laurel Park from 1991-99, before moving to New York.
“It feels great to be back on the grounds where I started a long time ago,” Prado said. “Don’t get me wrong, every time you win it counts. But today, it is very special because it has been 17 years since I rode here full-time. I have a lot of good memories.”
Prado led the nation in races won three straight years from 1997-99 and has nearly 6,900 lifetime victories. La Madrina, a 5-year-old mare trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey had run in three consecutive stakes, two of them graded, before dropping into the $47,000 optional claiming allowance.
La Madrina rated in mid-pack as Sweet Fortune set the pace in the six-furlong sprint, before Prado split horses at the top of the stretch and took the lead past the eighth pole to win in 1:11.40 over a muddy main track.
“She had the blinkers on for the first time. It seemed like she had been running evenly,” he said. “I think the blinkers and the competition made a lot of difference today.”
In his only other mount of the day, Prado was fifth aboard Southern Equity in Friday’s seventh race. He is named in three of nine races on Saturday after not having a mount on Thursday’s opening day of the Preakness Meet at Pimlico.