Watch Jorge Ricardo break the world record for career wins
Brazilian legend established new mark with victory in Buenos Aires
Two days after equalling the existing world record in his hometown Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian legend Jorge Ricardo landed his coveted 'go-ahead' victory on Wednesday with the 12,845th winner of an extraordinary career at San Isidro on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Ricardo, 56, made all on the Alfredo Mendieta-trained Hope Glory, who held on by half a length to claim the fourth race on a 14-race card, a dirt contest over a mile. He thereby surpassed Russell Baze, his arch-rival in North America who retired on the 12,844-winner mark in June 2016.
"I've been waiting for this moment for a long time," said Ricardo, who has made it his life's work to reclaim the all-time record he forfeited four years ago through serious illness and injury.
"I have fulfilled my goal and now I just have to celebrate and remember all those people who gave me a hand in Brazil and in Argentina."
He wasted little time adding to his score as he completed a double when scoring on Gold Attraction for the 12,846th victory of a career spanning more than four decades.
The jockey affectionately known as 'Ricardinho' started riding as an apprentice aged 15 and rode his first winner in November 1976 on Taim, trained by his father.
After breaking the record, Ricardo took the microphone to address a larger-than-usual midweek crowd at San Isidro. "It is very important to have achieved this here, because when I arrived in 2006 you welcomed me with much love, and showed me your passion for the horse and for the sport.
"It is an honour and a glory to get the world record here and I want to share it with everyone, those who helped me in the beginning and those who supported me to this day. Thank you with all my heart."
The British record for career victories is held by Sir Gordon Richards at 4,870, while the world record for trainers stands at 9,445, by the late American-based trainer Dale Baird.
All-time top ten jockeys
1 Jorge Ricardo 12,846
2 Russell Baze 12,844
3 Laffit Pincay 9,530
4 Pablo Falero 9,084
5 Bill Shoemaker 8,833
6 Pat Day 8,803
7 David Gall 7,396
8 Edgar Prado 7,287
9 Takemi Sasaki 7,153
10 Chris McCarron 7,141
Who is Jorge Ricardo?
From the 'Little Bird' Garrincha and Pele to Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, Brazilian sportsmen clearly love a nickname. The sublime talents of those celebrated ball-jugglers ensured their diminutives soon became well known beyond their national boundaries. It took their compatriot 'Ricardinho' rather longer to earn even the smallest headline outside his native South America.
Brazilian jockey Jorge Ricardo, a legend at home, started riding as a 15-year-old apprentice. He rode his first winner in November 1976 on a horse trained by his father Antonio – a former jockey, like two of Ricardo's uncles – at the famous La Gavea racecourse, in the shadow of Rio's statue of Christ the Redeemer.
It was to be the first of many. Ricardo stayed in Brazil for nearly three decades, in the process riding thousands of winners. Now he has overcome cancer and serious injuries to regain the senior all-time record.
Ricardo' on the first day of the season. He won the title 26 years in a row, often riding more than 400 winners in a season, a multitude of Group 1s among them. He has won the continental championship, the Gran Premio Larinoamericano, five times; nobody else has won it more than twice.
Ricardo partnered South American champion Much Better to finish 14th to Carnegie in the 1994 Arc, but generally speaking as he rarely rode outside Brazil, let alone South America, his prodigious feats largely slipped under the international racing radar until he moved to Buenos Aires in the summer of 2006, after which news of his staggering achievements finally reached a wider audience.
In February 2006 Ricardo broke the world record for career victories when he rode his 9,591st winner to surpass Russell Baze for the first time. "For me it was very important to get the world record because I had been thinking about it for many years, working hard to become the winningmost," he told me at the time.
"To achieve the world record was an unparalleled and enormous joy. The applause and cheers on the racecourse were something I will never forget. I also hoped that perhaps if I got the record then the world might recognise the importance of South American turf, which is so little taken into account elsewhere."
Thereafter for several years Ricardo was involved in a ding-dong struggle across two continents with his US-based rival Baze, who retired in June 2016. The world record changed hands several times: Ricardo, who won 26 riding titles in his native Rio before moving to Argentina, became the first jockey in the world to reach 10,000 wins in January 2008, but Baze beat him to 11,000, which he reached in August 2010.
The lead flip-flopped several times in the following months until Ricardo established a decent gap – only to forfeit his advantage when he was forced to spend more than six months on the sidelines to fight lymphoma in 2009.
In September 2013, he was out for several months after suffering a fractured shoulder and broken jaw in a horror fall that forced him to scale back his riding following his return and slowed his remarkable output.
He missed another ten months last year when he fractured his left femur in December 2016 in a fall at the Hipodromo Palermo in Buenos Aires.
Ricardo and Hall of Fame rider Baze, who have often spoken of their enormous respect for each other, have met on a couple of occasions. They both rode at the Shergar Cup in 2008 – ironically, given their career exploits, neither rode a winner – and they faced each other again in a special five-race points series (won by Ricardo) at the Hipodromo do Cristal in Porto Alegre in September 2014.
"It's like footballers Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo thrown together before our eyes," suggested Airton Barnasque, racecaller at the Jockey Club Rio Grande do Sul.
Jorge Ricardo in numbers
70,000 (approx) rides
180+ Group 1 victories
30 Jockeys' titles (26 in Brazil and 4 in Argentina)
477 Best season total (1992-93 in Brazil)
467 Record single-season score in Argentina (2007)
5 GP Latinoamericano wins
No. of wins Country First/last winner Broke record
2,587* George Fordham Britain/Britain 1851-83
2,748* Fred Archer Britain/Britain 1870-86 1886
3,260 Sam Heapy Britain/Belgium 1899-1940 1934
4,870* Sir Gordon Richards Britain/Britain 1921-54 1947
6,032 John Longden Britain/USA 1927-66 1956
8,833 Bill Shoemaker USA/USA 1949-90 1970
9,530 Laffit Pincay Panama/USA 1964-2003 1999
12,844 Russell Baze Canada/USA 1974-2016 2006**
12,845 Jorge Ricardo Brazil/Argentina 1976- 2007**
*wins in Britain only
**Record flip-flopped between Baze and Ricardo for a six-year period between 2007 and 2013