05/12/2015 10:26AM

McCarthy’s birthday gift: a Preakness mount

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Trevor McCarthy rides Bodhisattva in the Preakness, which falls on his 21st birthday.

Preakness Day is going to be like Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day all rolled into one for jockey Trevor McCarthy, who not only will ride in his first Triple Crown race but also celebrate his 21st birthday.

McCarthy will ride Bodhisattva in the Preakness for owner and trainer Jose Corrales. Bodhisattva, based at Laurel Park, improved over the winter and in his last start scored a front-running win for McCarthy in the Federico Tesio Stakes going 1 1/16 miles at Pimlico.

Bodhisattva will be one of the longest shots in the Preakness field, but that matters little to McCarthy, who will represent the home team in Maryland’s biggest race.

“I’m super excited,” McCarthy said. “It’s going to be a fun day.”

Since winning his first race in October 2012, McCarthy has established himself as the leading jockey in Maryland. He led all Maryland riders in wins in 2013 and then last year was the leading rider at all three Maryland Jockey Club meets. He currently holds a slim lead in the Pimlico standings.

Corrales, 55, has experienced the highs and lows of the game. Corrales won more than 1,000 races as a rider, and it wasn’t too many years ago that he was at Beulah Park without any horses to train.

It was while he was in Ohio that Corrales was introduced to Andy Stronach, who sent him some stock. Stronach later introduced him to his father, Frank Stronach, and Corrales now trains a sizable string of horses for Stronach Stables in Maryland.

Before Corrales gave the Preakness mount on Bodhisattva to McCarthy, he couldn’t help but have a little fun at the young rider’s expense.

“There are always rumors going around the racetrack, and I heard I might not get to ride,” McCarthy said. “So, I went to Jose and asked him, and he said it was the Preakness, and he was going to have to give the mount to Mike Smith.”

The news was like a punch to the gut for McCarthy.

“For a minute, I was bummed, and I thought maybe I’m not ready for the Preakness,” McCarthy said. “Then Jose told me he was only kidding and that I had the mount. It’s funny looking back at it now, but at the time, I wasn’t too happy.”

Corrales holds McCarthy in high regard.

“He’s a young kid, but he has a lot of talent,” said Corrales. “I’m glad he’s riding for me.”