Arlington Park Barn Notes

New addition to the Arlington jockey colony Sofia Rodriguez rode her first North American winner in Saturday’s first race aboard Thomas Kassel and Juan Perez’s Nicolas Perez-trainee Bartbaalu, a 6-year-old gelding making his 38th lifetime start against maidens. The 21-year-old Rodriguez settled her charge along the rail a length off the pacesetter in the early running of the six-furlong race over the Polytrack. Turning for home, Rodriguez went to the lead and urged Bartbaalu to engage with the betting favorite who had moved up to duel the pair. Rodriguez was able to get her mount to the wire first, three-quarter lengths the best at odds of 25-1.

“I rode 48 winners in Uruguay,” said Rodriguez after the race. “But this one is the most important to me by far.”

Born in the town of Bergamo in Northern Italy, Rodriguez moved to Uruguay at the age of 15 with her family. It was there that young Rodriguez was introduced to horses and decided on her future career.

“I became horse crazy at 16 and I decided I wanted to be a jockey,” said Rodriguez. “I started working at a horse farm, and one year later my parents took me to the track to see some races. Soon after I started working at the track, and then I rode my first race two years ago.”

Rodriguez rode for two years at Maronas Racecourse, the flagship track in Montevideo, Uruguay. It took her only four starts in the United States to land a winner.

“I always wanted to come to the United State to ride, but I didn’t know anyone here,” said Rodriguez. “I made a friend in Kentucky, and after a few months decided to move to Louisville. I lived there for one month before coming to Arlington to ride.”

“My dream is to ride in the Breeders’ Cup,” said Rodriguez when asked about her goals while riding in the states. “I hope to ride at Keeneland, too.”