08/12/2011 8:58PM

Presque Isle Downs: Willie Martinez wins 3,000th race


ERIE, Pa. - Jockey Willie Martinez won the 3,000th Thoroughbred race of his career Friday evening at Presque Isle Downs, when he rallied Squeaky Ceci to a one-length win in the third race. 

"The horses are the big stars, make no mistake about that," Martinez said in a winner's circle interview with Katie Mikolay. 

Martinez has ridden some big stars, including Brass Hat, Noble's Promise, Silverbullet Day, and Chilukki.

"I won my 2,000th win in the year 2000 and I was hoping and praying I could win my 3,000th win before the year 3000," he joked.

Martinez and the 3-year-old Pennsylvania-bred filly trailed the field after bearing out at the start of the $10,000 maiden claiming race.  The James Lawrence II charge  was unrushed before circling the field on the turn in the six-furlong race over the Tapeta surface. Martinez roused Squeaky Ceci at the three-sixteenths pole while six wide and was up late under an all out drive.  Squeaky Ceci paid $32.40 as the fourth choice in the wagering.

Martinez, 40, scored his first career win at Tampa Bay Downs in 1989.  Just recently, he scored a stakes double here on July 8, when he won the $75,000 Northern Fling Stakes aboard Malibu Win and the $75,000 Leemat Stakes on Terriffico. 

Overall, Martinez has 21,819 mounts through Friday, and they have earned a collective $69 million.