By  (Paulick Report)

Jockey Emanuel Nieves pilots Sunny Oak to victory in the 36th running of the Louisiana Cup Filly and Mare Sprint from Louisiana Downs. (Photo Credit: Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr.)

Emanuel Nieves is a young rider with a tremendous work ethic coupled with plenty of skill in the saddle. He is 25-years-old, though many mistake him for a teenager, and he is quietly earning the respect of many horsemen and horseplayers in Louisiana with his versatile riding style and well-timed finishes.

Born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, a municipality south of San Juan, Nieves had an opportunity to attend Puerto Rico’s Escuela Vocational Hipica, the famed jockey school with a noted list of graduates that have reached the top ranks in North America.

“It is a two-year program and I was there at the same time as Jose Ortiz,” said Nieves. “His brother Irad was there the year before and I got to know them both. They are really good people.”

In 2012, Nieves made his United States debut at Finger Lakes in New York. He rode his first winner on December 5, guiding Wachiwi to victory in a $9,000 claiming race. Louisiana-based agent Angel Cordero called him and offered to take his book at Delta Downs, so he headed south and has ridden at each of the four Louisiana racetracks in the past six years.

Last year, Nieves got the call from respected former rider and jockey agent Ronald Ardoin encouraging him to come to Louisiana Downs.

“I was doing well at Evangeline Downs, and still ride there on my days off,” said Nieves. “Ronald has such good relationships with horsemen, I felt it would be a good move.”

Last year, Nieves won 47 races, finishing sixth in the standings. He is the current leading jockey with 56 wins, seven more than last year’s top rider, Gerardo Mora.

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