What a year it's been for jockey Marcelino Pedroza Jr. After a slow start to the Indiana Grand Racing & Casino meet in April, Pedroza climbed his way to the top of the standings by mid-June and never looked back, soaring out to a commanding lead and earning his second title at Indiana Grand in the past three years.
A native of Panama, Pedroza had several major highlights during the 120-day meet, including equaling the track record for most wins in one night by a jockey with six wins on the Thursday, Sept. 5 racing program to tie the previous record set by Rodney Prescott during the 2013 season. Pedroza followed that up with achieving his 1,000th career win in early October and surpassed the record for most purse earnings recorded by a jockey in one season, which was held by Fernando De La Cruz during the 2016 meet. De La Cruz accumulated more than $3 million and Pedroza concluded the meet with more than $3.4 million in purses.
"I am extremely blessed," said Pedroza. "I want to thank all the owners and trainers who supported me and a special thanks to my agent, John Herbstreit. He did a really good job for me and he worked very hard."
The training title went to Genaro Garcia, who led in both wins, 59, and earnings, $1,163,957, from 301 starts at the meet. The partnership of Southwest Racing Stables and Bruce Murphy finished as leading owner by wins with 28 victories while Penny Lauer led in earnings with $829,571.
Pedroza noted that his 1,000th career win was exceptionally special for him.
"The 1,000th win was very special," added Pedroza. "Sometimes you get pressure and you get stuck and after 999 wins, I got it right away and that was really great."
Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing, and Kevin Greely, director of racing, made the trophy presentation too Pedroza and his family, wife Rocio, daughter, Rosie, and son, Jeremy. Pedroza will head to Fair Grounds for the winter and plans to be back to defend his title at Indiana Grand in the Spring of 2020.
"Marcelino does an outstanding job and is a great ambassador for Indiana Grand and for our sport," said Schuster. "We wish him the best and hope to see him back next year."
Pedroza concluded the 2019 racing season with three wins on the final racing program of the season. In all, Pedroza won 152 races with 111 seconds in 649 starts. He finished 59 wins ahead of the second place finisher Rodney Prescott, who won 93 races.
Pedroza earned the leading jockey title at Indiana Grand in 2018. He adds his second title at Indiana Grand to titles earned at Turfway Park and Kentucky Downs. Pedroza now has 495 career wins at Indiana Grand and moves into the top five jockeys all time at the Shelbyville, Ind. track.