Hawthorne Racecourse (3/22/11)
Contact: Ron Uchman
SHORTY STANDS TALL
2000! A little over eleven years ago, the number 2000 scared the bejeepers out of many of this world’s inhabitants. Remember Y2K? The day when all the Windows-based computers would cease to work (Apple was smiling)? Planes would fall from the air. Utilities would turn themselves off. The end of the world as we know it?
None of that, except for a few minor glitches, happened. So, what brings the number 2000 to mind right now?
Eduardo E Perez. Perez, Eddie or Shorty, scored the 2000th riding win of his career early last Wednesday afternoon, riding Cristel Racing Stable’s Lighthouse Judge to victory in Hawthorne’s first race. With that victory, Perez joined an elite group of riders.
Perez, a longtime Chicagoland fixture, is an American success story. He was working as a dishwasher in a local eatery when he was “discovered” by trainer Moises Yanez. Short of stature, his slight frame drew the attention of this sharp-eyed trainer whose prowess with horses is well known.
Yanez took the young Perez under his wing and was the trainer of record when Eddie earned his first victory. Red Tepee was the name of his first winner. That win came in 1988.
“So many people helped me when I was starting out and continue to help today. I obviously owe a lot to Moises Yanez, since he started me out, but a number of riders such as Juvenal Diaz, C H Marquez helped me a lot when I was first starting out; Pat Day taught me a lot when I was an apprentice.
“I’ve ridden so many good horses that it’s hard to pick my all-time favorite,” said Perez, “but Fort Prado ($1,211,681; eight-time Illinois Champion with multiple category wins some years) has to rate as one of the best.
“I really want to thank Chris Block, Moises Yanez, Tom Dorris, pretty much everybody. Thank Jesus for getting me in this business and to keep me going.”
BUT, POSSIBLY EVEN MORE IMPORTANT…
As strange as it seems, getting that 2000th victory might not be the most meaningful event that Perez will experience over the next week. On March 21, Mr. Perez was scheduled to take the oath to become a citizen of the United States.
Welcome home, again!
On a personal note, I have to thank Eddie. He and then-partner Iris used to run a local establishment. Though it wasn’t their “business,” they helped to find homes for unwanted pets. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of one of them, a wonderful Boston Terrier named Rocco. He was the light of my life for years. Thanks, Eddie.
Hawthorne Race Course is in its 102nd year of racing under Carey family ownership. Hawthorne races Friday and Saturday in February, beginning February 11. In March and April, live racing will take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday through the end of April. First post daily is 1:30 pm. For more information on racing at Hawthorne, visit our website at www.Hawthorneracecourse.com.