Jockey Ricky Gonzalez has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. He’s healthy, he has a lot of family support and he just won his 1,000th career victory.
The milestone came Thanksgiving Day in the third race at Del Mar when he booted home 47 Roses LLC’s Spiritist to a 2 ¾ length win for trainer Kristin Mulhall. It comes nine years, nearly to the day, since he rang-up his first victory at Golden Gate Fields.
The 27-year-old rider won race #999 last Saturday at Del Mar, so he didn’t have to wait long to get to 1,000. Gonzalez said he tried not to think about it.
“But people kept mentioning it to me,” he says. “I’m glad that it finally happened especially here at Del Mar with my family here. I’m very thankful, very blessed. Thankful to all the trainers and owners.”
Gonzalez is a native of Sinaloa, Mexico.
“It started as a dream as a 6-year-old boy,” Gonzalez recalled. “My grandfather’s friend is a breeder. One of his people told my dad he looks like a jockey. My dad said ‘No, I’m too old but I have a son.’ He introduced me to horses and I fell in love with them.”
Gonzalez came to the United States in 2013, starting at Turf Paradise, but within the year he had moved his tack to Golden Gate Fields where he won his first race. Then in the summer of 2020 he decided to make the jump to Southern California.
The move paid off a few months later when he won his first graded stakes on Fair Maiden in the 2020 La Brea (G1) on opening day at Santa Anita. He would go on to win the 2021 San Juan Capistrano (G3) and the 2022 an Luis Rey (G3) aboard Acclimate and the 2022 Buena Vista (G2) with Leggs Galore.
Following his win Thursday, his fellow jockeys pounced as he approached the jockeys’ room, showering him with water and wood-chip ground cover. It made quite a mess, but Gonzalez was all smiles.