05/19/2015 12:28PM

Pimlico: Hole one win from 2,000

Tom Keyser
Jockey Taylor Hole is one win away from his 2,000th career victory.

Jockey Taylor Hole is one win away from his 2,000th career victory.

Hole, a 43-year-old native of Salem, N.H., has scored almost 1,600 of his wins at Suffolk Downs and Rockingham Park. With the closing of Suffolk, he started riding in Maryland last November, and his business has steadily improved. He went 14 for 80 at the Laurel winter-spring meet and is 8 for 78 at Pimlico.

“I’d love to stay here in Maryland,” Hole said on Preakness Day. “I ride a little bit for everyone. I’ve always been that kind of rider. I have never had a big stable behind me. Everyone just kind of puts a few horses aside for Taylor.”

John Burke III, a Maryland steward for 14 years, is originally from New England and has watched Hole ride since he was an apprentice in 1991.

“He handles his business very well, and by that I mean he stays out of jockeys’-room politics,” said Burke, who will be retiring in June at age 74. “Taylor is a very heady rider and always knows where he is on the track. He is a strong finisher.”

Hole’s father, Michael, won more than 2,000 races during a 14-year career that began in New England and concluded in New York. In 1976, Michael Hole was found dead in his car at Jones Beach on Long Island with the tailpipe deliberately blocked.

His death at age 35 was ruled a suicide by asphyxiation, but rumors lingered for years that he had been murdered. His death came just prior to the Tony Ciullo race-fixing scandal. Ciullo admitted to bribing jockeys in New York and surrounding states in 1974 and 1975, and in exchange for immunity, he admitted to attempting to bribe Hole but said he had been turned down.

Hole was reportedly having mental-health issues at the time of his death and was seeing a psychiatrist.

“I was 5 when my father died; I didn’t know him,” Taylor Hole said. “Nobody knows what happened. It just depends who you talk to.”