Jockey Mario Pino recorded his 7,000th career victory on Wednesday at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Penn., guiding Enjoy the Music to victory for trainer S. Matthew Kintz. Pino entered Wednesday with 6,998 wins and seven mounts; the jockey won the second race aboard Gucci Gal for win number 6,999, and captured the milestone win in race four.
Ahead of Wednesday's card, Pino told yourerie.com he was considering retirement: “I'm a little excited and on the other hand I'm a little pressurized you know because it's coming to the last two and they always say the last one or two are the hardest ones, but yeah I'm real excited and I've had that goal for a long time.”
Born in Delaware, Pino grew up on a farm surrounded by horses. His father trained show horses for the local jumping circuit, and the farm took in client horses to board as well. Pino and his siblings were raised caring for the animals, cleaning stalls and doing all the chores necessary to keep a family farm running smoothly.
By the time he was 13 years old, Pino knew he wanted to be a jockey. He found jobs exercising Thoroughbreds at Delaware Park and later Penn National before a friend of his father took him to Belmont Park. There, he found a job working for Joe Cantey, trainer of champion Temperence Hill and multiple Grade 1 winners Majesty's Prince and Cox's Ridge.
Pino rode his first winner in January of 1979 at Bowie Race Course in Maryland, then got his next two winners in quick succession the following day. He was hooked.
Over the course of his career, Pino earned both the George Woolf (2013) and Mike Venezia Awards (2016), both of which are based on character and sportsmanship.
Other than his impeccable character, Pino may be best-known as the regular rider for Hard Spun, second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic.