Just a little more than eight years into a career that began at Delta Downs on Halloween in 2013, jockey Mitchell Murrill won his 1,000th career race on Sunday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, guiding Selective Racing’s Yin Yang (2.10-1 second choice) to victory for trainer Brad Cox in the day’s sixth race, an “off the turf” optional claiming/first-level allowance sprint for 3-year-old fillies.
“I’ve got to thank Brad (trainer Cox),” Murrill said. “This is the first horse I’ve ridden for him in my career, so it’s kind of nice to get into the winner’s circle for him. He told me before the race that the horse (Yin Yang) was going to be keen and to try to get her to relax and keep her running forward. She did it today.”
Earlier on the card Murrill won the fourth race on Cypriano for trainer Chris Hartman, who just two days earlier reached a milestone of his own at Fair Grounds, winning his 1,500th career race. The duo has contributed greatly to each other’s success, teaming up for 82 wins since first joining forces four years ago. Following a five for ten winning streak, Murrill had been in an 0 for 23 slump prior to his fourth race score.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Murrill said of reaching the milestone. “All week it’s been pretty tough to get into the winner’s circle, but we got it done and I can’t be more grateful for everyone who has contributed.”
The 27-year-old native of Mobile, Alabama scored his first career win aboard Golden Barbara on May 28, 2014. Perennially in the top five in the jockey standings at both Fair Grounds and Arlington Park, he had a breakthrough meet in November at Churchill Downs, finishing fifth with 15 wins. He earned a career-best $5,619,207 in purses in 2021 and counts the 2018 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G3) aboard Chocolate Martini as his biggest win to date.
“Gerard Melancon helped me out from the very beginning when I started riding at Evangeline,” Murrill said. “It’s hard grinding, working. My agent Tim (Hanisch) is out here every day working hard, trying to make connections with everybody and trying to keep everybody happy. We are just trying to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.”
Murrill’s parents and girlfriend had been in attendance earlier in the week, awaiting the milestone win that didn’t come until Sunday.
“I told them if I didn’t win, they had to go home,” Murrill joked. “I wish they could have been here to share this with me.”