Ar­ria­gada liv­ing dream come true

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Mike Welsch Fol­low Mike Welsch on Twit­ter @DRFWelsch

MI­AMI – One week into the Gulfstream Park West fall meet­ing and the hottest trainer on the grounds is the lit­tle-known Juan Ar­ria­gada, who won with his first three starters at the meet be­fore In His Im­age fin­ished fourth in Thurs­day’s opener.

Ar­ria­gada sits atop the trainer stand­ings de­spite hav­ing only nine horses un­der his care. A na­tive of Peru, Ar­ria­gada came to the U.S. in 2004 and worked as an ex­er­cise rider for such prom­i­nent horse­men as An­thony Dutrow, Rusty Arnold, John Ward, and An­thony Pec­co­raro. He also owned horses that he trained him­self in his free time.

“I’ve worked with horses all my life,” Ar­ria­gada said. “My grand­fa­ther trained horses in Peru, as did my father.”

Ar­ria­gada’s father, Raul, trained Al Khali in Peru in 2008 for his first three starts. Al Khali was sold and won the Grade 3 Saranac in 2009 and Grade 2 Bowl­ing Green in 2010 with Bill Mott.

Ar­ria­gada took out his own trainer’s li­cense in March 2017, split­ting his time be­tween Delaware Park in the sum­mer and Tampa Bay Downs in the win­ter be­fore de­cid­ing to ap­ply for stalls at Gulfstream Park ear­lier this year.

“I talked to Bill Bad­gett, who put me in touch with the rac­ing sec­re­tary, and they were kind enough to give me stalls at Gulf­s­ream Park,” Ar­ria­gada said. “I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep them this win­ter when the Northern out­fits started com­ing back. I didn’t want to be at Calder or Palm Mead­ows, so I was pre­pared to re­turn to Tampa if I had to, but they gave me what I asked for and I’m de­lighted to be able to stay.”

Pri­mar­ily a claim­ing trainer, Ar­ria­gada spends plenty of time down by the fence watch­ing horses ev­ery rac­ing day. He did find him­self with a stakes run­ner ear­lier this year – the 3-year-old filly Es­tilo Fe­menino. A daugh­ter of Mid­night Lute, Es­tilo Fe­menino won two of her first three starts be­fore fin­ish­ing sec­ond be­hind the odds-on fa­vorite and graded stakes win­ner Curlin’s Ap­proval in the Sugar Loaf Key Hand­i­cap. Of­fers to pur­chase Es­tilo Fe­menino be­gan to come shortly af­ter­ward.

“I bought her for $9,500 and sold her for $350,000,” Ar­ria­gada said. “When you’re a lit­tle guy like me with a good horse like that, peo­ple who have money want to buy them. And a guy like me has to sell.”

Ar­ria­gada, who re­sides lo­cally with his wife, Al­li­son, and a 7-week-old daugh­ter, says he can­not be­lieve the suc­cess he’s had since mov­ing lo­cally.

“It’s been amaz­ing how well things have gone here for us,” said Ar­ria­gada, who owns all nine horses in his barn.

“All the horses have been run­ning well,” he said. “Even when they don’t win they’ve been hit­ting the board or bring­ing home checks, and I can’t say enough nice things about the peo­ple here at Gulfstream Park, who couldn’t treat me any bet­ter. Ev­ery­thing has been like a dream come true.”

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