Vancouver, B.C. (March 24, 2015) – For years early arrivals on a race day at Hastings Racecourse would see a rangy silhouette of a man jogging around the five-furlong oval in the morning mist. It was like a scene from the original Rocky movie where Rocky Balboa would run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of his training for a shot at the world heavyweight boxing championship.
For jockey Pedro Alvarado, it was a regular routine in preparation for his day’s work. He would run the Hastings laps to keep in shape with the hopes of gaining an edge on his riding rivals. And, boy, did it work. After a brief riding stint in Washington and California, Alvarado made his Hastings debut in 2001. When he retired in October of 2012, he had won 1008 races in front of a loyal army of Vancouver racing fans. He was the leading rider at Hastings three successive years (2002, 2003, 2004) and was crowned champion jockey again in 2006.
It was in 2006 when he won his second BC Derby aboard Halo Steven after winning it with Roscoe Pito in 2003. Just prior to the conclusion of the 2012 thoroughbred season Alvarado announced he would be retiring from the jockey colony to take up training. And while he did attain a measure of success, his love for riding has lured him back to the jocks room.
“Training horses wasn’t the hardest part of the job,” he told Province racing writer Tom Wolski. “What I found difficult was hiring good people to work for me. That kept me down to operating a small stable and I realized how happier I’d be doing what I love most … riding.”
So the popular native of Mexico City who is now a permanent resident of Vancouver will be back in the saddle this year at Hastings. And even though he is approaching his 50th birthday, Alvarado says he will return to his pre-race day training habit of doing those “Rocky-like” laps that have become his trademark.