Jockey Leonel Camacho-Flores returns to Emerald Downs | Horse Racing

Jockey Leonel Camacho-Flores, the Northwest’s newest riding sensation, returns to Emerald Downs after posting a career-high 47 wins last season.

In a tale of two halves, Camacho-Flores’ 2011 campaign modeled the running style of a late-closing racehorse. While it took time to find his stride, Camacho-Flores finished the season with a ferocious rally. In fact, at last year’s halfway point, he had ridden just 10 winners. As Seattle weather got hotter, so did Camacho-Flores. The 28-year-old Zacatecas, Mexico native turned in a spectacular two-month performance, winning 37 races, including his first ever stakes score and was later honored with the meet’s Top Riding Achievement.

From unknown to in-demand, Camacho-Flores shipped his tack to Northern California following the Emerald Downs season. In 82 mounts, Camacho-Flores found success, notching eight wins at the Golden Gate fall meeting. And after a quick stint at Portland Meadows, Camacho-Flores said he’s ready to start fast at Emerald Downs.

“It’s not easy to win at any track,” Camacho-Flores said. “I just need to do my job and ride hard every race.”

One horse sure to make life easier, Buddy Dave, a six-time winner last season, has resumed training after a runner-up finish in 2011 to Touch of Elegance for the meet’s Top Claimer. Camacho-Flores, who worked Buddy Dave last week, said he expected another strong campaign from his favorite thoroughbred.

“He’s ready to start racing,” Camacho-Flores said. “I don’t know how he does it. He’s such a little horse, but he has a lot of power.”

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