LAUREL, Md. – Journeyman Horacio Karamanos, one of Maryland’s most experienced and successful riders, finds himself leading Laurel Park’s summer meet standings in what promises to be a spirited fight to the finish.
Through the first 27 racing days since live racing returned to Maryland May 30, Karamanos has 25 winners, one more than Jevian Toledo. Sheldon Russell, out with a broken wrist suffered July 16 at Delaware Park, and 16-year-old apprentice Charlie Marquez are tied for third with 20.
Karamanos is named in six of eight races as live racing returns to Laurel Thursday, and eight of nine races on Friday’s card. A five-time meet champion in Maryland, he ranks second in both mounts (145) and purses earned ($708,618), trailing Toledo. Karamanos’ last Maryland meet title came when he shared the 2017 Preakness Meet at Pimlico crown with Feargal Lynch and Kevin Gomez.
Lynch, a winner of 12 of 61 starters, is also sidelined with fractures in his neck and back following a July 23 spill Laurel. Perennial leading rider Victor Carrasco broke his elbow July 15 at Monmouth Park, where he and Maryland’s four-time overall champion Trevor McCarthy moved their tack for the summer.
I’m having a beautiful meet. We started a little bit slow in the beginning like everybody and then my business started to pick up,” Karamanos said. “Now I’m riding some better horses and I’m winning some races so I’m happy for that. My agent, Frank Douglas, is working hard, too.
“This is a pretty even meet. A couple riders are hurt and not here and that spreads it out a little more equally for everybody,” he added. “I’ve had some good luck. I’ve been able to win some races and the horses are running well. I try hard so I hope it stays like that. If not, I’m happy to be riding good horses and having them run well, too.”
A native of Argentina, where he won more than 1,500 races before coming to the U.S. in 2000, Karamanos won with just five of his first 50 mounts (10 percent) before the calendar turned to July. Since then, he has gone 20-for-95 (21 percent) and posted seven multi-win days, including hat tracks July 4 and 25.
Karamanos has ridden winners for 12 different trainers during the meet, the most (seven) coming for Laurel-based Damon Dilodovico. He also has multiple wins for Jose Corrales, Jamie Ness, Marco Salazar, Ferris Allen and Miguel Vera.
“I ride for most of the people here. Sometimes trainers decide they want to ride different riders but I’ll always be available to ride for anyone. I have no problem riding for everybody,” Karamanos said. “Damon is starting to win races and he is my biggest client right now and I appreciate him giving me the opportunity.”
Karamanos rode in South Florida when he first came to the U.S. and picked up his first domestic winner at the former Calder Race Course. A multiple meet champion at Colonial Downs, he came to Maryland in 2002 and tied a Laurel Park record by riding seven winners on a single card on Oct. 26, 2002.
On Father’s Day, June 17, 2017, Karamanos earned his 2,000th career victory aboard Liquid Aloha at Laurel Park. He owns nine graded-stakes wins including the 2015 and 2017 Barbara Fritchie (G2), 2017 Frank J. De Francis Memorial (G3), 2016 General George (G3) and 2007 Virginia Derby (G2). He also has nine wins in the Maryland Million and was the regular rider for retired claimer-turned-multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Page McKenney.
“I feel so happy to stay in Maryland. I came here 18 years ago, and this is my home and these are my people. I feel so happy and so confident on this track. It’s a beautiful track, the turf is good and the dirt is a really beautiful track, too,” Karamanos said. “This is my place. When you find your home, you feel happy and you want to do well. I think everything is coming up good for me. I’m happy.”
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release Photo: On Father’s Day, June 17, 2017, Karamanos earned his 2,000th career victory aboard Liquid Aloha at Laurel Park. Credit: Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club