On Tuesday, jockey Nik Juarez officially announced the retirement of multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Valid. The 24-year-old Maryland native spent his own money to track down the 7-year-old gelded son of Medaglia d'Oro, and had him shipped back to a farm in Maryland to live out the rest of his days eating grass and occasionally as Juarez' personal riding horse.
Valid was the first horse Juarez rode to victory in stakes competition, winning the 2015 Grade 3 Phillip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park; the milestone occurred just three days after the jockey lost his bug boy status.
“He was a big part of my career,” Juarez said. “It's hard to explain but for those that knew him, he was such a joy to be around and had his own very unique personality. I rode him and could just feel how much will he had to fight and to win. It's very heartwarming to see him happy, eating grass and just being a horse. He deserves it.”
Bred in Virginia by Edward P. Evans, Valid was originally a $500,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September sale. Selected by John Ferguson, Valid began his career under the Darley colors, but went to auction again at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Fall mixed sale with just one win from seven career starts. Purchased by Carolyn Vogel for $115,000, Valid went on to compete for trainer Marcus Vitali and ownership Crossed Sabres Farm.
His first stakes win came in the 2014 G2 Monmouth Cup, and he would go on to add wins in the 2015 G3 Fred W. Hooper, the 2015 G3 Phillip H. Iselin, and the 2016 G3 Skip Away. Throughout his career, Valid was incredibly consistent, rarely finishing off the board in both allowance and stakes company. His final start for Crossed Sabres was the Skip Away win in April of 2016, at which point his record stood at 12 wins, nine seconds and seven thirds from 37 career starts, with earnings of $1,101,647.
Valid was later sold to Tom W. Thurman in the 2017 Keeneland January mixed sale for $15,000. In April, his first start in about a year, Valid ran ninth in a listed stake at Nebraska's Fonner Park. The gelding ran twice more at Arapahoe, his best finish a second in an allowance race, to earn a grand total of $3,000 for those three starts.
Today, Valid belongs to Juarez, and the gelding can “finally rest,” said the jockey. Currently the leading rider at Monmouth Park by a big margin, Juarez is preparing to move his tack to Belmont Park this fall. Still, he plans to come home to Maryland to spend time with Valid whenever possible.