READY FOR MORE WINS

Jockey Rajiv Maragh rides Mucho Macho Man while exercising on the Churchill Downs track in Louisville, Ky., last year.
AP Photo/Ed Reinke
AP Photo/Ed Reinke

Rajiv Maragh is looking forward for a very successful 2012 thoroughbred racing season as a jockey at the three New York Racing Association tracks — Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga.

Last year aboard 1138 mounts, Maragh posted 139 victories, 138 second place finishes, and 148 third place finishes. His biggest victory came aboard Caleb’s Posse in the Breeders’ Cup dirt mile. It thus marked his first ever Breeders’ Cup triumph.

“This Breeders’ Cup Mile was unbelievable,” he recently said. “It was a great feeling and very satisfying to win.”

Unlike some past years, a casino was added to the grounds at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park in order for its season to continue to be successful. In the process, the New York Racing Association tried to bring in more spectators into the track when Aqueduct is in session. However, the meeting is at Belmont Park at this time of the year.

“It’s great to repeat and come to work when the purses are so big and there’s so much money out there,” Maragh said. “The casino plays a big impact on racing (at Aqueduct). I’m excited about that.”

Originally, Maragh comes from Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies, where his father Collin was a jockey, himself, but the latter now trains in Florida. Rajiv is riding for eight years, including about four in New York. Last year he earned $9,390,656. He came to America in 1998 and started riding in 2003.

Rajiv rode Alpha in the first leg of the triple-crown for three-year old horses at the Kentucky Derby last Saturday. He was not in contention and finished 12th in a 20-horse field. The second leg is the Preakness and the third and last leg is the Test of Champions at a mile and a half, the Belmont Stakes in early June.

He would love to finish first in one of these races.

During the winter he finished as the fourth leading rider at Gulfstream Park.

“I had a solid meet over there,” he said. “I won some races, enjoyed myself in Florida, got a nice tan and I’m ready for the summer.”

Presently all the action is at Belmont Park, in Elmont, Long Island. “Belmont is one of my favorite tracks to ride,” the 26-year-old jockey added, after a recent race. “I’m hoping to get off to a fast start and build on that… And I’ll try to move forward. My favorite track is anywhere I win a race. I love Belmont, I love Gulfstream and love Saratoga — my top three. Going to Saratoga is a chance to make a big name for yourself. It has a cream of the crop racing with great competition and a lot of fun.”

Competition for Maragh is stiff with many new jockeys around at Belmont Park now riding full time. There are Rosie Naprovnik, Julien Leparoux, and Junior Alvarado. Some returnees include Ramon Dominquez, Edgar Prado and John Velazquez.

“I just have to try hard,” Maragh went on. “I’ll have to do my best and hopefully, I’ll get lucky. I’m just glad to be riding at this level with the best in the business. And I’m living off my childhood dream.”

Maragh said that his goal is to win every race that he is entering this year.

He knows that it is an impossible goal but that is what he tries for.

When he is not riding, Maragh tries to spend time with his family, go fishing, play videos and relax.

Jockey Rajiv Maragh reacts after riding Caleb’s Posse to victory in the Dirt Mile race at the Breeders’ Cup horse races at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

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