Jamaica native Maragh looks ahead

Jockey Rajiv Maragh, riding Groupie Doll, reacts after crossing the finish line to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint horse race, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

As the horse racing season is drawing to a close for 2012 in December, one jockey can look back at a successful time that he turned in riding his thoroughbreds, especially in stakes events that drew huge crowds out to the track. More recently, this event marked the 24th running of the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park, New York.

This horse was a filly, Groupie Doll going against the Guys in a Grade I stakes event.

Coming into the race, looking for her sixth straight victory, including a win in a Breeder’s Cup outing, Groupie Doll was the favorite based on past performances, but Stay Thirsty had other plans going toward the finish line and pulled a slight upset in a field of five horse .

Groupie Doll was ridden by Rajiv Maragh, who originally came into the United States from Jamaica, West Indies. Maragh has been having a successful season of riding at the New York tracks. And overall, he has been aboard the filly seven times in his career.

“It’s been a productive year for me,” Maragh said. “I’ve won some big races throughout the year with Groupie Doll and through out the summer I had a couple of big wins, as well, and at Saratoga and Belmont.

“But I haven’t won that many races as I did in the past couple of years. But I’ve won some top quality races.”

One race that stands out in Maragh’s mind was the sprint for fillies and mares at the Breeder’s Cup.

“That race made her the champion for fillies and mares sprinters,” Maragh said. “This has to be my biggest highlight of the year.”

During the winter, Maragh will be living in Queens as he presently does and will continue to ride at Aqueduct Race Track.

He is not involved in any other sports because he wants to avoid any injuries that might hurt his riding career.

“All I want is to keep my body in top shape for riding,” he continued between races on Cigar Mile Day. “I follow sports (such as) basketball and hope Miami will win the NBA (National Basketball Association) championship once again. When I lived in Florida, I had a lot to do(besides going to school).

“Miami is my team because when I left Jamaica (West Indies) I went with my family to Florida, grew up in South Florida, and went to high school there. I supported the Florida teams and I started (my) riding (career) in Florida.”

His goal right now is to win every race that he rides.

“And to keep on going,” summed up the jockey, who lived in Jamaica for his first 14 years. Then his family moved to Florida where there was diversified culture.

In the Cigar Mile, Maragh thought that he had won the race aboard Groupie Doll. “The pace didn’t develop fast and I was close,” he went on. “I got the trip I wanted to. It was just a tough beat.”

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