“They told me yesterday (Saturday) that I was getting close,” said Cruz, who rode four winners at Calder on Saturday to get him to win 1,999. He finished first in the last race on Saturday, which would have been victory number 2,000, but was disqualified for interference in the stretch and subsequently placed second.
A native of Brazil, Cruz was among the top jockeys at Hipodromo Cidade Jardim, winning 1,200 races there before coming to the United States in 2000. In 2002, Cruz earned his first riding title in the U.S. when he was the leading rider at Tampa Bay Downs. He came to Calder that summer and was the second leading jockey of the meet.
Over the years, Cruz has earned five riding titles at the Calder and Tropical meets and rode his 1,000th North American career winner on Sept. 17, 2005 at Calder. He is the leading jockey of the current Calder Meet.
“I love my job,” said Cruz, after getting doused with water by his colleagues outside the winner’s circle, a tradition usually reserved for first-time winners. “This makes me so happy. Now I can’t wait for 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000.”