05/08/2013 2:59PM

Hollywood Park: Bejarano closing in on 3,000th career win

Barbara D. Livingston
Rafael Bejarano comes into Thursday's card at Hollywood Park needing four wins to reach 3,000.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Friday could be a milestone day for top jockey Rafael Bejarano at Betfair Hollywood Park – if he does not win four races Thursday.

Bejarano, 30, entered the racing week at Hollywood Park on Thursday with 2,996 career wins. He had five mounts Thursday, leaving him with an excellent chance of reaching the 3,000th win of his career sometime this week.

The milestone comes at a time when Bejarano is ranked sixth in the nation in wins this year, with 104 victories through Tuesday. Joel Rosario led all riders with 130, and led in earnings with $7,526,066. Bejarano ranks fourth in earnings with $5,847,987.

“It’s been an incredible year,” Bejarano said Wednesday between workouts at Santa Anita. “I’m looking forward to 3,000.”

Bejarano is expected to be the leading rider at the current Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. At the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting that ended April 21, Bejarano led all riders with 93 wins, 31 more than runner-up Edwin Maldonado.

A native of Peru, Bejarano is the current leading rider at Hollywood Park, even though he only rode the first four days of the meeting – April 25-28 – and last Sunday. During that span, he had 12 wins, including four-win days April 26 and 28, and a three-win day April 27.

Bejarano, who is represented by Joe Ferrer, rode in Kentucky for much of last week, winning twice.

“I’ve been working with my agent so hard for the last eight or 10 years,” Bejarano said.

This weekend, Bejarano rides Scarlet Strike in Saturday’s $100,000 Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over a mile on turf. He rode Scarlet Strike to a win in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita on April 6.

Bejarano rides Belvin in Saturday’s $70,000 Came Home Stakes for 3-year-olds over seven furlongs and Lime Rickey in Sunday’s $70,000 Round Table Stakes over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

Scarlet Strike is part of a projected field of eight in the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Scarlet Strike starts in her eighth consecutive stakes in the Senorita.