Juarez Gets First Breeders’ Cup Mount Aboard Valid
LAUREL, MD – Jockey Nik Juarez, a native of Westminster, Md., will get an opportunity to compete in his first Breeders’ Cup Friday when he rides Crossed Sabres Farm’s Valid in the Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland.
For Juarez, the Breeders’ Cup is another milestone in what has been a big year. After returning from a 6 ½ month layoff earlier this year, Juarez won his first graded stakes aboard Valid in the Iselin (G3) and finished third at Monmouth Park in wins (45) and seventh in money earned ($1.1 million).
“I’m excited to have the experience of going there,” Juarez, 22, said. “To get an opportunity like this…I just want to thank [trainer] Marcus Vitali and Crossed Sabres Farm. I think it's going to be an extraordinary experience, and I think my horse really has a chance to win."
Listed at 10-1 in the morning line, Valid has 10 wins from 31 starts, earnings of $744,677, and victories in the Monmouth Cup (G2) and Fred Hooper (G3). He won the Iselin by 3 ½ lengths after drawing away down the stretch. For Juarez, the Iselin was a memorable victory.
"I just lost my bug, it was like three days after I lost it, and trainer Marcus Vitali wanted to give me a shot,” Juarez said. “He wanted to try and get my career rolling. I worked for him throughout the summer. He saw some potential in me and wanted to give me an opportunity to ride the horse. When we got the lead at the head of the lane, he just drew away and won in hand."
As far as the Dirt Mile, which drew a field of 11 including even-money favorite Liam’s Map, Juarez said; "Liam's Map will be the stone cold favorite, but I know my horse and I know his running style and he's a fighter. If you look at his past performances, if you put him in the fight, he's gonna fight.”
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