Tuesday, September 1, 2020
HALLANDALE BEACH - Camacho left Venezuela in 2012 to chase a dream – a dream that will become very real when he rides Tampa Bay Derby winner King Guillermo in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
“This is the dream for every jockey in my country – to ride in the United States," Camacho said. "This is the MLB of racing. When you’re here, that’s your dream – to ride the big races and ride in the Kentucky Derby. That was my dream. I never thought I’d ever ride in the Kentucky Derby, and when I won the Tampa Bay Derby, I said, ‘Wow!’
Camacho, among the leading riders during the Spring/Summer Meet at Gulfstream, shares a dream of participating in the Derby with fellow Venezuelan natives Victor Martinez and Juan Carlos Avila, King Guillermo’s owner and trainer, respectively
Martinez lived his boyhood dream during 16 Major League Baseball seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians as a catcher, first baseman and designated hitter, making five All-Star appearances. He retired from baseball in 2018 and has turned to raising cattle at his 2,500-acre ranch in Okeechobee and owning a few race horses, most notably King Guillermo, who is trained by Gulfstream-based Avila, who won nine titles and more than 3,000 races in Venezuela before venturing to South Florida in 2018.
“The owner, Victor Martinez - I have a good relationship with him." Camacho said. "He’s a really nice guy. He has a lot of class. He’s humble. He’s amazing,” the married father of three said. “Thanks to God for letting me ride in the Derby. Thanks to Victor Martinez, the owner, and the trainer, Juan Carlos Avila, for giving me this big opportunity.”
The son of a jockey, Camacho began his career at La Rinconada in Caracas after attending the country’s jockey school,and moved on to the U.S. at the end of 2011. He won 32 races in 2012 as an apprentice while riding at Calder Race Course (now Gulfstream Park West) and several mid-Atlantic racetracks. He returned to Venezuela in 2013 before resuming his dream job in the U.S., riding at Tampa Bay Downs at the tail end of 201
The 33-year-old journeyman has ridden with success at both Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream, winning more than 650 races over the past five years – none more rewarding than King Guillermo’s 4 ¾-length victory in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 7.
“I’m so happy. It’s so exciting what is happening with my career. I’m ready,” said Camacho, who also guided King Guillermo to a second-place finish behind Nadal in the May 2 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. “My horse has been working great at Churchill.” Camacho will spend Derby Week at Churchill Downs as required under Covid-19 protocols.
“I’ll try to take some mounts beginning Sept. 1 to ride before the Derby,” he said. “I want to get to know the track.”
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