McCarthy To Celebrate 21st Birthday With Preakness Mount

McCarthy To Celebrate 21st Birthday With Preakness Mount

BALTIMORE, MD., 05/14/15 – When someone turns 21, the birthday is supposed to be special. The celebration might include a person's first legal drink. The day signals entry into adulthood.

Jockey Trevor McCarthy, who turns 21 on Saturday, will be celebrating with a special gift from trainer Jose Corrales. McCarthy will be riding in his first Triple Crown race when Corrales gives him a leg up on Bodhisattva for the 140th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

“It's quite exciting,” McCarthy said. “I would rather it be this than to go out and drink or go to the casino or something like that. It's a pretty cool experience.”

A son of former jockey Mike McCarthy, who won six riding titles at Delaware Park and the Ohio Derby twice, Trevor McCarthy has ascended quickly in Maryland’s jockey ranks.

The younger McCarthy, who rode his first winner in October 2012 at Parx, was the leading rider on the Laurel Park and Pimlico circuit in 2013 with 107 wins. He led the circuit again last year with 167 wins, topping the jockeys' standings at the Pimilco meet and both Laurel meets.

His 263 victories in 2014 – seventh most among jockeys in the country – included wins in the Delaware Oaks (G2) on Fortune Pearl at Delaware Park and the Boiling Spring (G3) on Munirah at Monmouth Park. His 2014 purse earnings, $8.1 million, put him 20th among riders nationally.

“I've been watching this kid since he started,” Corrales said. “He's a complete rider.”

Now, Trevor McCarthy has a chance to do something that his father, who retired in 2002 with 2,907 victories in more than 20 years in the saddle, never did: ride in a Triple Crown race.

“For him to see me ride in the Preakness, I think it brings him a lot of joy, knowing that I'm really excited about it,” Trevor McCarthy said. “He just always wanted this for me.”

The older McCarthy passed on the fundamentals of the profession to his son.

“My dad, he taught me everything, pretty much gave me everything,” the jockey said. “And he's been such a huge help. Without him, I wouldn't be in the place I'm in. Ever since I was little, he's put me in the right places and showed me the right things and the wrong things. I think this is what he kind of wanted.

"He didn't have the success that I had when he was starting out riding,” he said. “He had a great career too, but toward the end. I think he wanted me to be better than him. That's why he always was very disciplined to me when it came to riding.”

“I think the father has been the best teacher for this kid,” Corrales said “When I see him, I told him, 'Whoever taught you did a very good job.' His father was a very good rider.”

Bodhisattva has been learning, too, Trevor McCarthy said. The jockey and colt, who is based at Laurel, first got to know each other in the Private Terms there on March 21, not long after McCarthy, who had broken his wrist in a spill at Laurel on Dec. 20, had returned to riding. Bodhisattva finished second in the 1 1/8-mile Private Terms, 2 ½ lengths behind Bridget's Big Luvy.

But in 1 1/16-mile Federico Tesio on April 18 at Pimlico, Bodhisattva led all the way to defeat runner-up Noteworthy Peach by 1 ½ lengths. Winning for the third time in 11 career starts, Bodhisattva was on his way to the Preakness.

“I see a lot of progression,” McCarthy said. “He 's learning quite a lot every time he runs every day, every day he trains. Every time I work him, it seems like he's developing into a real nice horse. And he's just learning day by day by day, and he's getting better and better, more confident in himself.

“The first time I rode him, he lugged in really bad with me in the Private Terms, and that's what kind of got him beat. We were a bit bummed about that,” he said. “So, Jose did some changes with him, kind of really started to figure him out, and in the Tesio, he really showed his true class and what he was about. And we're very excited about him.”

McCarthy, of course, was headed to the Preakness, too, though Corrales decided to play a joke on him when the jockey asked if he still had the mount.

“I said, ‘You know what, let me tell you something, you have to think about who you are going to ride,’” Corrales said. He then mentioned that some big-time jockeys, such as Mike Smith and John Velazquez, might be better choices.

“I kept going,” Corrales said. “He said, ‘I understand.’ Then I told him I was just kidding.”

McCarthy said that Corrales didn't lead him on for long, “which was somewhat nice of him.”

Corrales said he doesn't expect McCarthy to be nervous on Saturday.

“It's another ride,” Corrales said. “It's just nice you're able to ride that. You know the horse. You know the track. Of course, you get a little bit excited. And then I found out, it's his birthday the same day. It would be nice to do good on that day.”

Said McCarthy: “People think, ‘You're nervous?’ I haven't even thought about being nervous. I'm just so excited to have the opportunity to be in the race that nervousness hasn't even crossed my mind. It's a huge opportunity and a big deal for me and my family.”

It will be an unforgettable birthday for McCarthy, all right.

“That present already is done by knowing you'll have your name in the paper,” Corrales said. “The way I look at it, you look at the Super Bowl, and everybody's watching it. And now, I feel like I'm going to the Super Bowl, and he's there. Whatever happens, happens. We're going on with it and see what happens after that.

“The kid's going to go big-time,” he said. “He going to go to the Hall of Fame later on. I will say that.”