When Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado decided to leave his native Peru to ride in the United States, the plan was to come for a couple of years, make some money and become a lawyer.
But as usually happens to the best-laid plans, love gets in the way.
Prado fell in love with the horses he rode and those couple of years turned into nearly four decades. Now, the 56-year-old Prado is walking away from Thoroughbred racing, telling BloodHorse June 20 he is retiring to spend more time with his family.
"It was getting harder and harder and I was wasting the time that I spent with my family, with my loved ones," he said.
Prado said the notion of retirement had been on his mind for a few months, but that it wasn't until two days ago—Father's Day—that he finalized the decision.
"I saw my kids in my house having a great time and I decided to call it off," he said. "I've been very blessed throughout my career."
Prado last rode Jan. 6 at Gulfstream Park but had been looking for horses to ride. However, the opportunities were not there. He said, like a golfer who hits the links once a month, it was becoming difficult to be good with the lack of mounts.
"They all wanted new riders," he said of trainers. "I totally understand that. When I was 20, I took somebody's place, and now somebody is taking my place."
Taking his place, even figuratively, will be difficult to do.
Prado ends his career ninth among jockeys in North American earnings with $272,008,849. He is eighth in North American wins with 7,119 from 39,725 rides. Prado has a Kentucky Derby (G1) victory, in 2006 aboard Barbaro, and two Belmont Stakes (G1) wins, in 2002 with Sarava and 2004 with Birdstone. Those Belmont wins denied War Emblem and Smarty Jones, respectively, the Triple Crown.