Photo Credit: Michael Burns
For a jockey with his first mount ever in Canada's biggest race he had a quiet confidence about him, especially when I asked him about the filly, Inglorious, and the big field he was about to encounter in the Plate.
"It's going to be tough for the filly," said Contreras, "but I know she can do it."
He had to decide to ride the filly over several other mounts. He had ridden the last three races for Bob Tiller's Oh Canada. He had won the last race on Okiyama and rode third place Plate finisher Pender Harbour to a fourth place finish in the Victoria Park. He had also last rode in Strike Oil's last two races, taking the show money in the Plate Trial.
He chose the filly. What a wise decision that was.
He's been red hot at Woodbine atop the jockey standings winning at a 22% clip and a whopping 55% ITM. He leads the veteran Patrick Husbands by 19 wins. His come from behind style was lauded by everyone I spoke to last Monday.
He grinned from ear to ear when his filly was announced and paraded in front of reporters in the paddock. His smile was infectious and
When I asked him where he'd like to be in navigating the big Plate field Contreras replied, "We'll try and stay in the middle of the field behind the speed. I'll see how she's doing after the first three furlongs before I make a decision when to make my move." After making being four wide around the far turn, he had the filly in a perfect spot to cruise by the field in the final furlong to win by 2 1/2-lengths.
I asked winning trainer Josie Carroll what she thought of Contreras riding in his first-ever Plate. "He's a smart rider who really reads the race well by putting his horse in a position to win," said Caroll. "In this field size, that's a big factor."
She was right on all accounts (and so was I - for a change).
Luis Luis - The Queen's Man.