OCEANPORT, N.J. (AP) — Look around the world of sports and older athletes are winning.
Phil Mickelson recently became the oldest winner of the PGA at almost 51 years old. Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl — with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this time — at 43 in February.
Jockey Jose Ferrer isn't doing anything as grandiose. He's just leading all jockeys in wins at Monmouth Park in New Jersey after 10 days of racing with 16 wins in 56 mounts, a 29% winning percentage.
By the way, Ferrer is 57 heading into Friday's twilight card.
“It’s been fantastic lately. It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Ferrer, who has ridden 4,575 winners in a career that began in 1982. “You get those times where everything goes right for you, when everything seems to click. That’s where I feel I am now.”
Ferrer has been so hot, he's even winning with unexpected horses. Last weekend he guided 79-1 longshot Informative to victory in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile, one of seven winners he had last weekend.
After the race he joked the horse couldn’t read the tote board.
A lot of his horses have been like that. Seven of his winners have paid $12 on a $2 win bet, and three have returned more than $30.
Ferrer has seen 32 of his 56 mounts hit the board. He sees no reason why he can't add a second Monmouth riding title to the one he took in 2018. That was six months after a horrible spill at Delaware Park that many feared would end his riding career.
“I’ve had good stretches where I’ve won three or four in a day and then came back and won three or four the next day,” he said. “But to win the Salvator Mile, a Grade 3, with such a longshot and to win three other races on the card, two with longshots, and then three the next day … that’s a pretty good stretch.”
Ferrer was born in Puerto Rico and credits his success to a tough physical regimen, adding he is in the best shape of his life. He's not into social media in his spare time.
“It’s a blessing to keep riding this long and at my age,” Ferrer said. “I like that some of the younger guys come to me for my knowledge. I am always there to help if I can. Older riders helped me when I was coming up. So I feel like I should share my knowledge and experience.”
Ferrer leads Nik Juarez by six wins in the jockey competition with 43 days left in the meet. The only major jockey missing from Monmouth this meet is Joe Bravo, who opted out because of New Jersey’s strict no crop rule.
Ferrer said he has adjusted to the new rule, adding it reminds him of 1980s when he used his hands a lot more than his stick.