Nik Juarez, 22, grew up hanging out in the jockey’s room at the track.
Photos and text by Lloyd Fox
He is a third generation jockey, following in the footsteps of his father and maternal grandfather. Nik graduated from Winters Mill High School where he was a four-year varsity wrestler. He began racing in 2013 and was fortunate enough to win his first race. “It is a great adrenaline rush,” says Juarez. “There is nothing better than hearing all those horses feet pounding the ground at forty-something miles an hour.”
Juarez acknowledges that horse racing is a dangerous sport. His father, now a trainer at Pimlico, had to retire in 2009 after being run over during a race and breaking several vertebrae. The younger Juarez has had his share of broken bones also. An injury during a race in 2014 caused him to miss nearly 7 months of the racing circuit.
With $1.49 million in earnings in 2016, Nik Juarez is ranked 49th of 1,168 jockeys. He has won multiple graded and ungraded stakes and has ridden in the Breeders Cup and the Florida Derby. Although he is not scheduled to ride in this year’s Preakness, he will be riding on Preakness day and hopes to someday ride in the Preakness Stakes. “I’m from Maryland,” Juarez states. “If I could win the Preakness here one day, that would be awesome!”