10/20/2009 11:00PM

Yaranga enjoys second career in Ohio


Jockey Yuri Yaranga reached a personal milestone last week when he captured his 1,000th win at Beulah Park.

Yaranga, 48, a native of Lima, Peru, has had a long career in horse racing, but didn't begin in the United States until 2003.

Yaranga took out his apprentice license in 1978 and rode in Peru until 1990, then began a training career. He trained horses all over South America.

"Some of my good horses ran in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, along with Peru," he said.

In 2002, Yaranga received a phone call from Marco Ccamaque, a Peruvian rider who had ridden for him and was then based in Ohio. Ccamaque has since moved his tack to Mountaineer Racetrack in West Virginia.

"The purses down in Peru are not very good," Yaranga said. "Marco told me there were a lot of riders from my country up there and they were doing well."

Yaranga took his friend's advice and came to the U.S. He began riding at Calder and Gulfstream Park with limited luck. He then rode briefly in Nebraska. In 2003, he finally met up with Ccamaque and began riding on the Ohio circuit.

"I really like it here and have done well at River Downs, Beulah Park, and Turfway Park," Yaranga said. He attributes his recent success to riding first call for Joe Woodard.

"I began riding for Joe last year and we have had great success," he said.

As a combination, Yaranga and Woodard have gone 109 for 296 the past two years, a 36 percent win average.

Yaranga said riding for Woodard and Billy Hays has "helped tremendously."

He purchased a house near Grove City, Ohio, where Beulah is located, with his wife, Michelle. Yaranga has two daughters from a previous marriage, Lucia, 21, and Alexandra, 20, who still reside in Peru.