Carlos H. Marquez, Jr. notched his 3,000th victory in North America when he guided Frank Calabrese and trainer Michael Reavis' Savemethelastdance to a two-length win in the 7th race Saturday at Arlington International Racecourse. His career total includes eight wins in Puerto Rico.
Marquez was joined in the winner's circle by his mother Elba Marquez, his brother Carlos E. Marquez, who is a valet at Arlington, his sister-in-law and nephews, as well as his fellow riders.
“We all set goals, and I wasn't expecting it to be this many,” said Marquez after the win. “We got lucky, and thank God I did it.”
The 50-year-old native of Puerto Rico began riding in 1984 under the guidance of his father and professional jockey Carlos H. Marquez, Sr.
“I'm doing it for my father who passed away two years ago. He wanted me to do it and this is just for him. I've been riding thirty years and it's a lot of hard work. I've been hurt quite a few times but (winning) makes you feel good. Getting this many wins is hard to do.”
Marquez Sr. proved to be a driving force behind his son's success in the saddle. In addition to teaching and guiding his son down the path to being a successful jockey, he also taught at the world renown Escuela Vocacional Hipica in his native Puerto Rico. It was at Keystone Park (now Parx Racing) in 1985 where the younger Carlos scored the first of his career victories aboard Upstairs Maid. For two more years, Marquez, Jr. continued to ride throughout the Mid-Atlantic circuit at racetracks like Monmouth Park, Keystone Park and the Meadowlands. He then switched his tack to the Chicago circuit in 1987, but an opportunity to ride first-call for trainer Grover “Bed” Delp on the east coast pulled him back to the Mid-Atlantic circuit where he would ride regularly during the 1990's.
During this time, Marquez, Jr. saw his riding career reach new heights as he secured a Kentucky Derby mount in 1997 aboard multiple graded stakes winner Concerto (he finished ninth). That same year, he guided Salt It to a victory in the Black Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico, a race which his father won in 1970 aboard Office Queen. This makes the Marquez pair the only father-son duo to have won the Black Eyed Susan. For this reason, he considers it one of the most meaningful victories of his riding career.
“When my dad won, the race was worth $50,000 and when I won it was $250,000 so there was a big difference,” Marquez, Jr. said. “From the get-go he told me to work hard, dedicate myself. He told me that if I put my mind into the business, that I could be successful.”
Other noteworthy victories include graded stakes wins aboard Illinois-bred millionaire Mystery Giver in the Grade III Robert Carey Memorial Stakes at Hawthorne in 2003 and Vacare in the Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland in 2006, his only Grade I win. Both horses were trained by Chris Block.