01/30/2012 1:16PM

Santa Anita: Apprentice Flores scores hat trick, closes on milestone win

Benoit & Associates
Apprentice jockey Eswan Flores has won 39 Thorughbred races.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Apprentice jockey Eswan Flores won the first three races on Sunday’s program at Santa Anita, moving closer to a key milestone in his first year of riding Thoroughbreds.

Flores, 18, had 39 career wins as of Sunday. Following his 40th win, which could occur Thursday, his apprentice claim will be reduced from a current seven pounds to five for the remainder of his apprentice term. Under California rules, jockeys are classified apprentices for one year following the date of their fifth career win. In Flores’s case, his fifth Thoroughbred win occurred on Sept. 11, 2011, at Fairplex Park.

The current Santa Anita winter-spring meeting has been the best of Flores’s brief career. Through Sunday, he was tied for third in the standings with 15 wins behind Joel Rosario (25) and Rafael Bejarano (22). Flores is tied with Martin Garcia.

The success has left Flores feeling more comfortable in his surroundings each day.

“I’m more confident,” he said.  “When I first started, I was a little out of place. Hopefully, I can get better.”

Sunday, Flores rode Smil’n From Above ($4.80), You Can Dream ($4.20) and Warren’s Morgan ($4.20) to wins.

Flores rode Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos, winning 21 races in early 2011, before shifting to the Thoroughbred circuit on a full-time basis last spring.