10th-All Time Leading Rider Mario Pino Launches Season with Career Win No. 6,941

Jockey Mario Pino, racing’s 10th all-time leading rider approaching 7,000 career wins, made a late but successful start to 2020 by guiding 2-year-old filly Amanzi Yimpilo to a popular front-running triumph in Wednesday’s fifth race at Gulfstream Park.

The juvenile daughter of European Group 1 and North American Grade 3 winner No Nay Never, trained by Wesley Ward, won the five-furlong turf sprint by 2 ½ lengths in 56.65 seconds over a firm course in her career debut.

It was the first start since last Nov. 26 for the 58-year-old Pino, who winters in Florida and typically takes a few mounts during the winter and spring at Gulfstream before heading north, where last year he was based at Presque Isle Downs starting in mid-May.

“Usually I start a little earlier, but with the virus and everything they haven’t started up in Pennsylvania. There’s no racing yet,” Pino said. “Usually I ride a few here before I go there, but since the virus I couldn’t ride. This was my first one back in a long time. Wesley tried to pick the right one.”

Favored at 3-5 in a field of seven, Irish-bred Amanzi Yimpilo broke well and was in front through fractions of 22.02 and 44.73 seconds, repelling a bid by 16-1 long shot Tequa from the quarter pole to upper stretch and sprinting clear.

“I always thought she was professional. I got on her once in the morning and liked her then,” Pino said. “She did everything perfect. Relaxed horse, probably can go farther, but fast, too. She stood in the gate a long time, came out running and drew away pretty impressively. Around the turn the horse came up on me, but she went on. She’ll probably turn out to be a nice little filly going a little farther.”

Pino is named to ride the Ward-trained Murray’s Bar in Friday’s second race, a maiden special weight for 2-year-olds sprinting five furlongs on the grass.

He is the third-leading active rider with 6,941 wins, trailing Perry Wayne Ouzts (7,069) and Gulfstream-based Hall of Famer Edgar Prado (7,059), and 10th overall; each of the nine ahead of him have topped the 7,000 mark.

Born in Delaware, Pino rode his first winner in 1979 at old Bowie Race Track and his 6,000th in 2007 at Laurel Park, both in Maryland. Also in 2007, he was second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and third in the Preakness (G1) aboard Hard Spun.

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