05/24/2013 1:16PM

Hastings: Rider turned trainer Alvarado happy with new role


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Pedro Alvarado is no stranger to the winner’s enclosure at Hastings. After all, beginning in 1994 he won 1,008 races riding here. He had a different vantage point when he greeted Yes He’s Trouble following his win in a $17,500 conditional claimer last Monday, however. It was the first winner for Alvarado as a trainer and he was happy after going 0 for 10 since he saddled his first horse at the meet on April 13.

“Finally,” he said with a big smile. “It was hard to break my maiden. I sent out a bunch of horses I thought were ready to win, but it didn’t work out for one reason or another. It was a little bit frustrating.”

On Sunday, Alvarado is hoping to double his win total as a trainer with Lady Bourne, who looks like a serious threat to win the sixth race.

Alvarado was a bit concerned when Yes He’s Trouble was lagging near the back of the pack during the early stages of the race, but credited Antonio Reyes with a great ride by getting him up in time to win by three-quarters of a length.

“Antonio was waiting and waiting and I was getting worried,” said Alvarado. “But when the rail opened up he moved him at the perfect time. It was very exciting.”

Actually, Alvarado’s horses have been running well at the meet and he had been a bit unlucky not to have won a race before Monday. Alvarado was given a rude awakening to how the game is played from the ground up when a horse that was claimed away from him came back and edged a horse he trained.

Alvarado said he thought he had a good chance with Michael’s Glory in a $5,000 maiden claiming race April 21, but he couldn’t have had a worse trip and finished fifth. Making matters worse, Michael’s Glory was claimed out of the race by John Snow. Michael’s Glory, of course, came back in a $10,000 maiden race May 12 to beat Intendedconsequen, a horse Alvarado had claimed in his previous start.

“That was tough, but I’ve been around long enough to know that things aren’t always going to go your way,” said Alvarado. “At least my horse ran a good race and hopefully he’ll win next time.”

Alvarado began his long career in horse racing when he enrolled in a jockey school in Mexico City when he was 13. Other than riding horses, he had not spent a lot of time working with horses until now, though. He is a hands-on trainer and is enjoying his new profession despite the long hours. He currently has seven horses in his stable, and with just one groom he’s doing double duty. Alvarado remains thankful to trainers Dino Condilenios and Greg Tracy for some of the advice they have generously given him regarding his new profession.

“It is very rewarding, and Dino and Greg have been great any time I’ve asked them for advice,” said Alvarado. “I gallop all my horses, and with just one helper I am doing a lot of the grooming myself. Actually, one of the things I am really enjoying is developing a bond with the horses. As a rider you got to know them a little bit, but as a trainer it is a whole different level. They are all different and you have to treat them as individuals. Something that works for one horse doesn’t necessarily work for another. “

One thing Alvarado does try to do is to have the jockey who is going to ride the horse in the race get on him at least once.

“I want them to have an idea of what the horse is like,” said Alvarado. “When I rode I always wanted to get on a horse before I rode him in a race. I know the difference between coming out of the starting gate with a horse you’re familiar with compared to one you’ve never been on before. “

As a former rider, Alvarado could have become the kind of trainer who is critical of the rides he receives. He said he isn’t going to play the blame game, however

“I know how tough it is out there and things don’t always go the way you expect,” said Alvarado. “Plus, this is one of the best group of jockeys I’ve ever seen here. You can get down to the seventh or eighth rider in the standings and you’ll be happy to get them.”

Fighting weight and physical pain were the main reasons Alvarado gave up riding. At 47, he is clearly enjoying his new life and he does not miss the hard work he put in to keep himself in riding shape.

“It’s funny,” said Alvarado. “I am working harder now than ever but it is a different kind of work. I am a eating as much as I want and I think I am lighter than when I was riding. I’ve been lucky to get some decent horses to work with and I look forward to coming to the track every day.”