- Published: Wednesday, 03 February 2021 20:20
Victor Carrasco is well-known for his success on the racetrack as a jockey, but he has remained true to the experiences that laid the groundwork for his career.
Carrasco, 28, was a hot walker and groom in his native Puerto Rico before becoming a jockey. He hasn’t forgotten it, and his dedication in assisting backstretch workers and their families at Maryland racetracks has earned him the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Unsung Hero Award for 2020. The MTHA Board of Directors approved adding the award to its existing awards that recognize backstretch workers are Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course each year.
“I grew up on the backstretch back home,” said Carrasco, who won his 1,000th race in 2020 and was the Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey for 2013.
“I know how it feels and I know how hard it can get. Here in Maryland, especially with this weather, they work through the cold. Sometimes they don’t get the credit they deserve. People don’t realize that grooms, exercise riders and hot walkers are the ones living with the horses every day.
“The real MVP of every winner’s circle photo is the groom.”
Carrasco, who credits his mother for his success—“She raised me right,” he said—arrived in the United States in Florida in March 2013 and soon after received a call from trainer Juan Vazquez suggesting he come to Maryland to ride for him. The jockey ended up winning 215 races that year. Carrasco has remained mostly in Maryland with regular trips to Delaware and New Jersey.
“This is my second home,” he said of Maryland. “I’ve been other places (in the Mid-Atlantic region) but they’re nothing like here. Our riding colony is great—all the people are great. I’ve been very fortunate and have been very blessed. I’d like to thank all the horsemen and I’m grateful for the support I’ve gotten over the years. It means a lot to me and I’m hopeful for even more opportunities.”