‘Indescribable’: Rene Diaz Breaks Through With First Winner At Gulfstream

Apprentice jockey Rene Diaz broke through to notch his first career win Thursday at Gulfstream Park after guiding Jessica ($14) to a three-length victory in the afternoon’s third race.

The 21-year-old jockey achieved the ever-important milestone in front-running fashion aboard the Michael Yates-trained 5-year-old mare, capturing a seven-furlong sprint for $12,500 filly and mare claimers.

“It feels amazing. It felt like the wire was getting further and further away from me,” Diaz said. “Thank God, my parents and everyone that supported me. I’m grateful for the connections, also — Mr. Yates, Shadybrook Farm. It’s just amazing, an amazing feeling. Indescribable.”

Diaz, who grew up in South Florida and played high school soccer with fellow Gulfstream jockey Romero Maragh, worked his way up the ladder on the South Florida backstretches.

“I was just freelancing in the backstretch, working for everybody and helping everyone out. Picking up things little by little, learning little by little,” he said. “It’s been a long three years of practicing until I decided this was my year to start. So much has happened due to the coronavirus. I’m just happy to be here and blessed.”

Diaz, who won his first race on his 18th career mount, expressed gratitude to the trainers who helped him realize his dream of becoming a jockey.

“I first started in the shedrow, shedrowing horses for [trainer] Aubrey Maragh. He gave me a huge chance. He was a big support. Also, [trainer] Monica McGoey was a big support. She’s really the person that let me get my gate card and gave me a whole bunch of horses to breeze,” Diaz said. “Then I started expanding my horizons with [trainers] Joe Orseno, Happy Alter, and Louis Roussel, where I learned a lot.”

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