Rafael Bejarano became just the 15th jockey to record as many at 500 victories at historic Churchill Downs when the debuting juvenile filly Just Cindy (Justify) validated 6-5 favoritism for trainer Eddie Kenneally Friday afternoon.
A native of Peru who will celebrate his 40th birthday June 23, Bejarano began riding at the Louisville oval in 2003 and earned three riding titles (Spring, 2004-5, Fall 2005) before shifting his tack to California in 2008. Arguably Bejarano's finest hour in the saddle came beneath the Twin Spires in 2010, when he shoved Blind Luck (Pollard's Vision) across the line for a narrow victory in the GI Longines Kentucky Oaks.
Just Cindy was the 4,281st career win for Bejarano, whose mounts have earned over $217 million in prize money.
Other members of the Churchill 500 club include Pat Day (2,482 Churchill Downs wins), Calvin Borel (1,232), Robby Albarado (1,192), Corey Lanerie (1,172), Julien Leparoux (1,002), Don Brumfield (925), Larry Melancon (914), Jim McKnight (883), Charlie Woods, Jr. (757), Brian Hernandez, Jr. (740), Shane Sellers (738), Shaun Bridgmohan (728), Julio Espinoza (642) and Jon Court (583).
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