Luis Quinonez reaches 4000 wins
Jockey Luis Quinonez celebrates after winning his 4000th race aboard Izeonpoint at Oaklawn Park.
Jockey Luis Quinonez, a 56-year-old native of Sinaloa, Mexico (turning 57 on January 6), notched career win number 4000 in the fifth race at Oaklawn Park on Friday, December 29 aboard 22-1 Izeonpoint for trainer Renay Borel and owner Martin Guzman in a 6 furlong, $7,500 claiming race for older fillies and mares with a $30,000 purse. Having ridden a mule to school as a young boy, his uncle found him work at the Downs at Albuquerque where he walked hots, groomed, galloped horses, and eventually got his jockey license. He made his riding debut at the Downs at Albuquerque in 1989 then moved his tack to Canterbury Park where he earned his first win on May 10, 1989. He owns riding titles at Oaklawn, Canterbury, and Remington Park. Asked about his first win, he said, "I rode the horse, win the race and they take my picture and I never forget, everybody left. I was there by myself. I didn't know what to do except follow the horse back to the barn. Then somebody came up and said, 'no, you got to go the other way' to the jocks' room."
Asked about how he felt about the 4000th win (the 83rd jockey in history to do so), he said, "People asked me: 'When are you going to win, blah, blah, blah?' I just tried to stay cool, be myself and just tried to let it happen. I'm very happy that it happened." He got his 3,999th win on December 16, but had to wait until this weekend to get the milestone as the track was dark for Christmas week. Trainer Renay Borel is the wife of jockey Calvin Borel, who won his 4,000th race at Oaklawn in February 2005. Calvin rode Izeonpoint in her last 6 starts, but after he moved his tack to Delta Downs, Quinonez picked up the mount for the first time Friday. It was also his first mount for Renay who started training in 2019. Quinonez said, "I watched the races when Calvin rode her. It set up perfect for me. She was very professional. Every time a hole opened up in front of me, she moved right through it. I said, 'Oh God, she's doing the work for me.'"
Luis Quinonez after winning the 2012 Oaklawn Handicap aboard Alternation
Quinonez mostly rides for trainer Donnie Von Hemel, who said on Saturday morning, "Just really happy for Louie. We chatted about it yesterday morning and what his prospects were for the weekend. Just wished him a lot of good luck. He's one of the good guys. Just thrilled for him." Asked if he is considering retirement, Quinonez said, "Not yet. My daughter said, 'Well, dad, you can't retire until you win 4,000.' So, I got there. I'm going to ride another year or two. I don't think I'll ride a lot, but I still feel good. As long as I feel good and make the weight, I'll keep going. Feel good about it and make the people, the trainers and the owners happy. That's all I can do."
Izeonpoint was the 643rd career Oaklawn victory for Quinonez. Quinonez rode his first Oaklawn winner Jan. 31, 1998, and is now the ninth-winningest rider in Oaklawn history. At time of writing (December 30, 2023), Quinonez has 4000 wins, 3793 seconds, and 3625 thirds in 27,632 starts, with purse earnings of $81,270,271. His best horse was Brownie Points, who earned $910,690 including winning the Ouija Board Distaff Handicap (G3) at Lone Star Park in 2008. A close second among his mounts is Alternation, winner of $891,853 including the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) in 2012. He has not won a Grade 1 event, but has 15 graded wins despite riding where graded opportunities are limited. His best year was 2008 when his mounts earned $4,733,152 and he had 201 wins in 983 starts. He said the biggest race in his career was one he didn't win, the only Kentucky Derby ride so far, when he rode 5th place finisher Suddenbreakingnews in 2016. He said, "It is a goal that every jockey has, to ride in the Derby. Then after you ride in one, you want to win one. I don't know if I will ever race there again, but at least I got there once." He has two brothers who are also jockeys: Alonso who is currently riding at Tampa Bay Downs, and Belen who retired in 2017.
Luis Quinonez finishing first aboard Izeonpoint for win #4000
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