Panama Native Scores on Car Lady in First Domestic Mount
LAUREL, Md. – Corrales Racing’s Car Lady accelerated through an opening along the rail and sped off with a last-to-first victory in Saturday’s opener at Laurel Park, giving jockey Alexander Chavez his first win in the United States.
Bred by Andy Stronach and trained by owner Jose Corrales, Car Lady ($7) ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.22 over a fast main track to win the claiming event for older fillies and mares by 7 ¾ lengths, her second career victory.
Chavez, 22, had been riding at Presidente Remon racetrack in his native Panama before coming to the U.S. Car Lady, a 4-year-old daughter of Grade 1 winner Colonel John, was his first mount.
“It was a dream to be able to ride in the United States, and today the dream came true,” Chavez said through an interpreter. “It feels very good. I am very happy.”
Car Lady trailed the field through a half-mile, saving ground on both turns as Walk It Out Nanny posted splits of 24.40 and 49.49 seconds. Chavez stayed patient nearing the stretch and put Car Lady in cruise control as they opened up on their rivals once in the clear.
“The whole way around I felt like I could win the race,” Chavez said. “I had plenty of horse.”
In his only other mount Saturday, Chavez finished fourth on Corrales owned-and-trained Tatica, a 30-1 long shot, in Race 4, a 5 ½-furlong maiden claimer for 3-year-old fillies. He is named in three of nine races Sunday at Laurel, all for Corrales.
Chavez said he began riding horses at age 8 and was introduced to the track by a former jockey in Panama, ultimately attending its famed Laffit Pincay Jr. riding academy. An uncle at home was friends with fellow Panamanian Corrales, leading to their introduction.
“I was watching the races in Panama and loved Laurel Park, so I came directly here,” Chavez said. “Jose is the first trainer to help me here, but I would love to ride for everybody.”
“I love it here,” he added. “My dream is to stay here and do well.”
Race 1 Replay
Photo: Jockey Alexander Chavez (Maryland Jockey Club)