Torrealba Earns First Career Riding Title at Laurel

J.G. Torrealba | MJC photo

Five-pound apprentice J.G. Torrealba, riding in his first full meet in Maryland, won twice on Sunday's closing day card to capture his first career riding title at Laurel Park, while Kieron Magee defended his crown as the meet's leading trainer.

Magee was winless with two seconds from four starters on Sunday's program, but held on to earn his second straight spring meet title, 11-10, over Jerry Robb, who had one winner in Sunday's opener.

Over the 15-day spring meet, Magee won at least one race nine times, taking over the lead with a stretch of four wins from 11 starters, including doubles Apr. 27 and May 3.

“It means a lot. We'll have a little party at the barn for the guys,” Magee said. “It's all due to my help. I have great help, and you have to get lucky with entries and everything else. Everything just sort of fell into place, so we're happy.”

Torrealba registered at least one win on 14 of 15 days, including each of the first 13, notching a hat trick Apr. 12 and doubles April 6, 7, 14, 20 and May 3.

“I didn't expect it, but we've been working hard and God has blessed me with the talent and the opportunity,” Torrealba said through fellow rider Angel Cruz. “I got here and I've been blessed with a lot of winners. I just want to keep doing what I do best and ride horses.”

Torrealba, 22, grew up in Venezuela with no family ties to racing or plans to make his living as a jockey, but fell in love with the sport watching the races and started riding in 2019. With the help of Laurel-based trainer Jose Corrales, Torrealba came to the U.S. in September 2022 and initially landed in Ohio.

Torrealba made his U.S. debut last April at Thistledown and rode his first winner the following day. He won 23 of 161 races (14%) and banked $620,669 in purse earnings before heading out west, where he went 3-for-57 at Del Mar's summer stand. Torrealba stayed the fall in Southern California, tying for seventh (from 49 mounts) at Santa Anita and fifth (from 31 mounts) at Del Mar with six wins apiece.

Represented by agent Simon Purdy, Torrealba rode his first Maryland races in January at Laurel. He ended the winter meet with the fifth-most winners (19) and sixth-highest earnings ($679,018) from 127 mounts and scored his first career stakes win on Copper Tax in the Mar. 23 Private Terms S. He added a second stakes win aboard Copper Tax in the Federico Tesio S. Apr. 20.

“I just want to thank my agent and all the trainers and owners because they give me a chance, and all the jockeys here that help me,” Torrealba said. “I have to thank God and I just want to keep going and keep working hard.”

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