Champion Victor Carrasco Sixth in Return to Riding Sunday

Angel Cruz Triples Sunday; Factor It In Bounces Back in Feature
Rainbow 6, Super Hi-5 Carryovers When Racing Returns Friday

LAUREL, MD – Nearly 4 ½ months after being injured in a spill at Laurel Park, journeyman Victor Carrasco made his long-awaited return to the races Sunday.

Carrasco, 30, finished sixth aboard Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds’ Libraryofcongress, a first-time starter for trainer Graham Motion, in Race 6, a seven-furlong maiden claimer for 3-year-olds. As a Maryland-bred, the Honor Code colt had the claiming price waived.

Libraryofcongress stumbled out of the gate and raced near the back of the nine-horse field in the early going before making a late run and winding up eight lengths behind Mine Run, half of the favored Brittany Russell-trained entry.

A four-time meet-leading rider in Maryland and the 2013 Eclipse Award winner as champion apprentice, Carrasco’s mount was his first in 150 days since the eve of the 2022 Jim McKay Maryland Million. He was hurt when his horse, Hooky Player, fell approaching the wire in the Oct. 21 opener.

A winner of nearly 1,200 career races, Carrasco was named in seven of the eight stakes and four starter stakes on Maryland Million Day. One of his mounts, Sky’s Not Falling, won the $100,000 Turf Sprint with Paco Lopez aboard.

Carrasco wound up seventh overall in Maryland in 2022 with 61 wins from 376 mounts, with $3.133 million in purses earned. Jockey Kevin Gomez, who broke his collarbone in the same spill, returned to riding Jan. 6.

“I had a dislocated left thumb. It was pretty bad,” Carrasco said. “I didn’t know that it was going to take me this long to get back to where I’m at right now. The doctor said that my thumb was dislocated in the main joint, and that’s the reason it took me loner than we expect to get back.

“They gave me two options. They said we can put a screw on your thumb, but you’re going to have to have the screw for the rest of your life. Or, we can take your own tendon from your forearm and wrap your thumb with your own tendon. But it’s going to be a longer recovery. I’m sure with a pin, I could have been back in eight to 12 weeks,” he added. “It was pretty challenging. I never thought that I would need my left thumb as much as I did when I got hurt.”

After getting clearance from his doctors, Carrasco began getting on horses for Motion at Tampa Bay Downs before returning to Maryland, where he is represented by agent Scotty Silver.

“It feels fine. I wanted to test it out in the warm weather before I came to the cold weather just to make sure I was 100 percent,” Carrasco said. “It was great. I started getting on horses for Graham. Jesse Cruz put me on one. I came back up to Fair Hill and Laurel and things have been pretty much back to normal, working for the same outfits and trying to get myself back in shape.”

Notes: Jockey Angel Cruz registered a hat trick Sunday aboard Espresso Lungo ($7) in Race 3, Mine Run ($3.60) in Race 6 and Factor It In ($3.60) in Race 8 … Winter meet leaders Jaime Rodriguez and trainer Jamie Ness teamed up for a pair of wins, Mystic Link ($6.20) in Race 5 and Offaly Fast ($) in Race 9 … Trainer Brittany Russell doubled with Classier ($6.20) in Race 4 and Mine Run … In Sunday’s feature, an open allowance sprint for older horses, Michael Scheffres’ Factor It In surged to a two-length victory in 1:10.64. The twice Grade 3-placed 7-year-old won the Dave’s Friend and Fire Plug back-to-back before running fourth in the Feb. 18 General George (G3) … Pocket 3’s Racing’s multiple stakes winner Threes Over Deuces ($5.40) held off a trio of closers to capture Race 7, an optional claiming allowance for 4-year-olds and up – his first win since the 2021 Dave’s Friend. The winning time was 1:25.07 … There will be carryovers of $5,932.08 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 and $1,485.30 in the $1 Super Hi-5 when live racing returns to Laurel Friday, March 24. Post time for the first of nine races 12:25 p.m.


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