Lopez eyeing win number 1,000

Nine hundred ninetJockey Paco Lopezy-eight…and counting. Jockey Paco Lopez is only two victories away from breaking the 1,000 career win milestone following a two-win day at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

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“It’s very exciting, and now I’m just waiting, waiting and waiting for it to happen. I hope it will be soon,” said Lopez, a 26-year-old native of Veracruz, Mexico, who rode Quarter Horses in his native country before moving to South Florida to ride Thoroughbreds five years ago.

With 62 wins so far at the current Monmouth meet, he is second in the current standings behind Elvis Trujillo. Among those 62 victories are six stakes win for six different trainers.

With 38 of the 56 stakes on the schedule run so far, Lopez has scored with Corporate Jungle in the $75,000 Elkwood Stakes for trainer Chad Brown; Pants on Fire in the $75,000 Skip Away Stakes for Kelly John Breen; Morrow Cove in the $75,000 Serena’s Song Stakes for Todd Pletcher; Senator Beck in the $60,000 Desert Vixen Stakes for Tim Hills; Tune Me In in the Grade 3, $150,000 Oceanport Stakes for Bruce Alexander; and Chamberlain Bridge in the $60,000 My Frenchman Stakes for Bret Calhoun.

Lopez is sticking with 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Chamberlain Bridge for the Grade 3, $350,000 Turf Monster Handicap at Parx on September 3, but first he’s named to ride Where’s Sterling in the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 26. Both of those races are Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” affairs.

“Business is very good now,” said Lopez, who won last year’s Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes on Where’s Sterling. “I’ve never ridden at Del Mar before and am really looking forward to it and riding that horse again. I’m also happy to stay on Chamberlain Bridge and he’s a good horse, too.”

Lopez was the leading rider at Monmouth and Gulfstream Park in 2010 and through August 10, he has 105 winners from 590 mounts who have earned $3,363,577. Last year he was 17th in the national jockey standings, and he is currently posting a 21 percent win percentage at Monmouth. Lopez’s horses have finished in the money 52 percent of the time.

Lopez is slated to ride in nine of the 12 races on Sunday’s card.

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