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Sanchez-Salomon Seeks First Training Title at Laurel

Rudy Sanchez-Salomon seeks first training title at Laurel Park.

Rudy Sanchez-Salomon

Rudy Sanchez-Salomon

Maryland Jockey Club

When he looks at the standings for Laurel Park's summer meet, which wraps up its 37-day stand this weekend, Rudy Sanchez-Salomon finds himself in excellent company.

Sanchez-Salomon's 18 wins has him tied for first with Claudio Gonzalez, who owns 19 career meet titles in Maryland since 2014—17 of them coming at Laurel—and has been the state's annual leader in victories since 2017.

Sitting right behind them with 16 wins is Dale Capuano, winner of 3,629 career races, 13 meet championships at Laurel, and another 18 at historic Pimlico Race Course between 1988 and 2010.

"Thank God, we've been blessed. We've been having a really, really blessed meet this summer," Sanchez-Salomon said. "We've got the right horses for the right races, and they've been doing very well. And, I have the help. Without all my help, we're nothing. The help is getting the horses ready and right."

Sanchez-Salomon is currently third overall in Maryland with 41 wins heading into the weekend, trailing Gonzalez (55) and Jamie Ness (44) with Jerry Robb is right behind (40). He has three multi-win days during the summer meet including a triple July 23 and a career-high four winners June 24.

Not bad for a 50-year-old native of Mexico who got his introduction to horses growing up on his family's farm.

"We raised sheep, cows, horses and all that. They were not racehorses, but we had horses," he said. "There were all kinds of animals."

Ultimately Sanchez-Salomon made his way to the United States and gravitated toward the racetrack. He started at old Garden State Park in New Jersey, which closed in 2001 and later demolished to become a high-end development of stores, restaurants and housing, and later at Monmouth Park working for trainers Scott Lake and Dane Kobiskie before striking out on his own in 2017.

Equibase statistics show Sanchez-Salomon's first winner coming May 28, 2017 at Pimlico with Nairet, a 4-year-old filly he had claimed one start earlier for $5,000. Sent off at 36-1 and ridden by Angel Cruz, Nairet paid $74.40 and earned the $12,450 winner's share of the purse.

"I never imagined I could be at this level right now. I just thought I'd train a couple horses and make a living and have fun with it," Sanchez-Salomon said. "That's the most important thing, that you love the horses and you have fun. If you don't have fun, there's no point to be in the business."

Equibase shows Sanchez-Salomon with 152 wins and more than $4.4 million in purse earnings from 883 lifetime starters. He is 44-for-251 this year with $1,424,727 in purses earned -- all career highs.

"It makes me feel proud of what everybody is doing back at the barn," Sanchez-Salomon said. "It makes me feel good and makes me feel that we're doing a really good job, everybody. It's not just me, it's everybody."

Sanchez-Salomon's horses are routinely selected as being the Best Turned Out, awards given out each race on every live racing day sponsored by the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association to recognize the care and preparation grooms put into their horses.

"That's a good compliment," Sanchez-Salomon said, "and it keeps us motivated to do a better job every day."

Sanchez-Salomon has trained 11 six-figure earners including multiple stakes winners Clubman, Shake Em Loose and Can the Queen and multiple stakes-placed Click to Confirm. It was Shake Em Loose that brought the trainer into the spotlight earlier this year, a horse he claimed for $16,000 last fall that won the Heft and Private Terms, was third in the Federico Tesio and briefly under consideration for the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1) after Sanchez-Salomon -- who also owns the horse -- made him a late nominee to the Triple Crown.

Instead, the 3-year-old gelding raced on grass in the James W. Murphy on the Preakness undercard, finishing sixth, and has been on break since. Can the Queen won the $100,000 The Very One during the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) undercard on Preakness eve, adding to her victory in last summer's Sensible Lady Turf Dash at Pimlico.

Sanchez-Salomon entered Click to Confirm on Friday's live 10-race program at Laurel along with fellow 3-year-old filly No More Mask, who is tied for the most wins by a horse in Maryland this year with five, and Hashtag Lucky for main track only in the finale. Gonzalez and Capuano each have horses entered in five races.

On Saturday's 10-race card, Sanchez-Salomon has two horses -- Camp Pendleton and Dr. Ferber -- entered in the opener as well as Bardolino in Race 6, while Gonzalez entered three horses and Capuano one.

Laurel's summer meet ends Sunday before racing shifts to the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium through Labor Day. Pimlico will host its first full fall meet since 2004 Sept. 9-25.

"It would mean a lot [to win the title]. We haven't been around and on our own for too long," Sanchez-Salomon said. "We started with one horse and we're up to 33, 34 horses and I have a couple more to bring in, so it's nice.

"It's nice to be able to have horses to run almost every single week. That's how you win the meet. If you compete and have horses that are well-prepared, you're fine," he added. "Our horses are very competitive right now and that's the key to be on top of the leading trainers -- when you have sound, competitive horses."

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