By Nicholas Godfrey
Brazil: Legendary jockey Jorge Ricardo, the all-time record holder in career victories, is to return home to Rio de Janeiro from Argentina as he closes in on the incredible landmark 13,000 wins.
Ricardo, 58, currently has 12,992 winners to his name. Based full-time in Buenos Aires since 2006, he intends to ride at Palermo’s meeting on Friday before heading back to Rio, where he has five rides booked on Monday’s card.
Citing dwindling opportunities in Argentina and a wish to spend more time with his family, he intends to stay in Rio for the prestigious Grande Premio Brasil card on September 27 later this month before considering his future in October.
Racing in Argentina has suffered one of the longest shutdowns in the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and even now only Palermo racecourse is operating two days a week. Other major venues such as San Isidro and La Plata are expected back on the schedule some time this month.
Ricardo, though, won’t be there. “The truth is that I stayed here waiting for the return of the racing but I never believed we would go so long without competing,” he said, speaking to Turf Diario.
“I’ve been working hard but I’ve already made this decision,” he went on. “I haven’t seen my family for six months and I’m going to stay at least until October because we have the Grande Premio Brasil and many other important races coming up.”
Before his move to Argentina – where he has ridden well over 3,300 winners and twice been jockey of the year – the rider affectionately known as ‘Ricardinho’ won 26 successive jockeys’ titles at La Gavea.
“There will be more chances there and I’ll be closer to my family,” he added. “My mother is 80 and misses me very much.”
However, he is also less in demand than used to be the case. “I am discouraged,” he admitted to Turf Diario.
“We are ten days away from the Carreras de las Estrellas (Racing with the Stars, in effect an Argentine Breeders’ Cup) with seven Clasicos and 150 horses entered and I don’t even have a confirmed mount. It does make me feel bitter. I always thought I would retire here but we will see what happens in October.”
Ricardo regained first spot in the world all-time list on February 7, 2018, at San Isidro when he scored on Hope Glory for the 12,845th winner of his career, thereby surpassing his North American rival Russell Baze, who retired in June 2016.