10/11/2012 2:11PM

Hastings: Alvarado sees his time as jockey come to an end


When Pedro Alvarado was a boy growing up in Mexico City he knew he wanted to be a jockey. Following his dream, he enrolled in a jockey school when he was 13 and he began riding races at the Hipodromo de las Americas in 1981 when he was 16. A career that saw him win over 3,000 races will end on Sunday when he rides Mr Exspeedient in the last race.

“Riding horses was all I ever wanted to do,” said Alvarado. “My uncle started taking me to the races when I was 6 or 7 and right away I knew I wanted to be a jockey. In my first year I finished second in the standings behind Alberto Lopez, who was a very good rider. I moved to Tijuana about a year and a half later and rode at Caliente for about three years. I also started to ride a bit in Washington and California.”

Alvarado eventually moved to Washington and rode full time there for 15 years. Between riding in the United States and Canada he won 2,713 races, and his mounts have earned $24,612,739.

Alvarado began riding full-time at Hastings in 2001 and has won 1,005 races here. He was the leading rider three years in a row beginning in 2002 and he led the standings again in 2006. He won the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby twice, with Roscoe Pito in 2003 and Halo Steven in 2006. He is currently third in the standings behind Amadeo Perez and Fernando Perez.

Alvarado has worked hard for his success. He has had to fight weight for many years, and at 47 the toll on his body is starting to catch up to him. Part of his usual routine on race days was to arrive early and run a few laps around the five-furlong oval.

“I have no idea how many laps I’ve done here,” said Alvarado. “The last four years have been the hardest. We only run on the weekends, so I have to work harder to stay in shape. My body just can’t do it anymore. I didn’t mind all the exercise I did to stay in shape, and the work used to give me a boost. Now, when I push hard I don’t have the amount of energy I need for the afternoons. It’s hard. I really want to give my body a rest.”

Alvarado passed the trainer’s test this year and is hoping to have a few horses to train at Hastings next year.

“One of the reasons I am retiring now is I am still young enough to do something else,” he said. “I am going to see how it goes training horses, but if it doesn’t work out there are tons of things I could do.”

Anyone that has been to his house for a barbeque would recommend he start a Mexican restaurant in Vancouver.

“I don’t know about that,” said Alvarado with a laugh.

Alvarado used to have to go back to Mexico and get a work visa to ride at Hastings. Last year he became a permanent resident and he is hoping to become a citizen soon.

“I have a good life here, and it should be exciting to see what the future brings,” said Alvarado. “I really want to thank everyone that has supported me during the years at Hastings.”

Commander headed to BC Marathon

Trainer Troy Taylor said Commander came out of his gutsy win in the Grade 3 B.C. Premiers last Monday in good shape and is on a van to Santa Anita where he will make his next start in the Grade 2, $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon. Commander dueled with Northern Causeway through sprint-like fractions and was still able to hold off last year’s Premiers winner Jebrica by a head in the 1 3/8-mile race.

“He was feeling so good we had to use a lip chain to load him onto the van,” said Taylor. “We know it is going to be a tough race, but he deserves a shot at it.”

The win in the Premiers was Commander’s sixth stakes win in a row.

Also Monday, Class Included won the Ballerina for her fourth straight stakes victory. The connections of Class Included are not sure where she will make her next start. They were considering the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic but are having second thoughts. The classy filly has won 10 of her 16 career starts and has never finished worse than second.

“She came out of the race extremely well, but that looks like a pretty tough field in the Ladies’ Classic,” said assistant trainer Kay Cooper. “I think she’ll handle turf, and there is a one-mile $150,000 stakes at Santa Anita the same weekend. Honestly, we just don’t know where she’s going to run next.”

The race Cooper was referring to was the Grade 2 Goldikova at Santa Anita on Nov. 4.