01/08/2013 6:45PM

2012 Eclipse Awards: Jose Montano

photo by: Renee Ludwig


Jose Montano led all North American-based apprentice jockeys in wins in 2012, and for the accomplishment he is an Eclipse Award finalist. Montano’s case for outstanding apprentice jockey was made from Jan. 1 through Oct. 14, when he won 187 races from 899 mounts before losing his apprentice allowance. During that period, the horses he rode earned $2,891,906.

Montano is a 26-year-old native of Mexico who compiled most of his wins at Charles Town in West Virginia. He ranked as the leading apprentice for the track’s first meet of the year, when he tied for second in the overall standings during the Jan. 3-March 31 season. Montano then captured Charles Town’s next three meet titles, winning 73 races during the April 1-June 30 stand, 60 races between July 1 and Sept. 30, and 48 races from Oct. 1-Dec. 29. His mounts earned a respective $1,036,395, $973,469, and $906,953 during the spring, summer, and winter meets.

“He’s a hard worker,” said Bill Kennedy, who has been Montano’s agent since March.

Kennedy said Montano got his start in racing at Mountaineer Park, also in West Virginia, working with trainer Randall Russell. The rider’s first win came there on Oct. 4, 2011. Kennedy said Montano later traveled to Charles Town and formed a key partnership with Jeff Runco, the track’s leading trainer. Other mentors for Montano include Charles Town-based journeyman Mauricio Rodriguez.

Montano’s first stakes win came Sept. 22, aboard the Runco-trained In the Fairway.