01/08/2013 7:45PM

2012 Eclipse Awards: Angel Suarez

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photo by: Tom Keyser

No apprentice jockey in North America jockey racked up more mount earnings in 2012 than Angel Suarez, who regularly rode day and night cards in Pennsylvania to amass $3,366,126. He won 142 races from 837 mounts, and his win total was the year’s second best for an apprentice behind Jose Montano. For the breakout season, Suarez is a finalist for the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice jockey.

Suarez, 19, graduated from the riding school Agustin Mercado Reveron in his native Puerto Rico in 2011. He won with the first mount of his career, on Jan. 1, 2012, aboard Grady Times at Camarero in San Juan.

It was the fulfillment of a dream for Suarez.

“He had no racing background,” said Suarez’s agent, Donna Servis. “He woke up one day, told his mom he wanted to be a jockey, and she said, ‘What?’ He was very smart in school, and she thought he’d be a doctor. It’s a Cinderella story, except it’s all true.”

Suarez won eight more races in Puerto Rico and then ventured to Pennsylvania. For the better part of 2012, he split his time between his base of Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa., where he ranked sixth in the overall standings with 87 wins, and Penn National in Grantville, Pa.

“He’s just the best,” Servis said. “He never complains, never says a word, never says, ‘I’m tired.’ ”

Suarez’s “big horse” last year was Hello Lover, one of the winningest horses of 2012 with nine victories. Suarez was aboard for three of them and also guided Hello Lover to a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Greenwood Cup at Parx.