A couple of weeks ago the Daily Racing Blog wrote about 54 year Hall Of Fame (still active) jockey Mike Smith. On Wednesday we featured the one-time golden boy, Triple Crown Winner (and fellow Hall of Famer) jockey Steve Cauthen. Here then, in an effort to perhaps appeal to a younger demographic, we look at a possible heir apparent:
SIERRA LEONA rallied from mid-pack for a three-quarter-length Victory Thursday at Laurel Park in Laurel, Maryland. She paid $13.60 for the Win in the one mile claiming race for fillies and mares.
Of more significance, it gave 16-year-old jockey Charlie Marquez his first professional Win. It was his 8th mount at Laurel, as he made his debut there on January 1st when he rode (appropriately) UP HILL BATTLE to a 4th place finish.
“It feels amazing. I’m only 16; it’s a lot to digest,” Marquez said. “But I’m glad I’m here and I’m thankful for all the opportunities been given to me. All the trainers that give me chances to Win races. This means so much to me.”
Marquez rode in seven amateur races in 2019, three at Laurel and four at Parx, with two seconds and two thirds. He had two third place finishes in seven mounts before recording his first Win.
“I’ve been riding my whole life, in the pony races and riding over jumps,” Marquez said. “I’ve done a whole bunch of different things, so this is an honor to be a professional now and finally Win my first race.”
From Columbia, Md., just 10 miles from Laurel Park, Marquez is the son of 52-year-old Carlos Marquez Jr., a multiple Graded-Stakes Winner. His grandfather, Carlos Marquez Sr., was also a successful jockey.
Marquez said he plans to finish his secondary education at home as he pursues his riding career.
“I’m turning in [forms] to get home-schooled, but there’s no way I’m dropping out. I need school just in case anything happens,” he said. “I owe everything to my mom. My mom has taught me everything that I know. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without her. It’s a very emotional thing for me because it’s my first Win ever.”
DRB wishes Charlie the best of luck, and safe trip in all his racing endeavors.