Jockey Joe Rocco slipped from a week-long slump yesterday at Laurel by riding his 2,000th winner.
Rocco, 31, had triumphed with one of his previous 27 mounts before he climbed aboard Ensor for the seventh race. He pushed the 5-year-old claimer out of midpack and into second well through the backstretch, and the 7-5 favorite overtook Silas Green at the head of the stretch to wrest command.
"I knew I was on the best horse," Rocco said. "The main thing was getting him out of the gate clean."
Ensor was the third mount of the day for Rocco, who also won the final race astride Swindler Mike, another favorite.
Rocco, who began riding in 1979, joined about 200 jockeys who have won 2,000, including six Maryland regulars: Marco Castaneda, Gregg McCarron, Donnie Miller Jr., Mario Pino, Rick Wilson and Danny Wright.
"From the way I saw it," Rocco said, "I never thought I'd get there."
Rocco, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., said he "had never seen a horse" when his father yanked him out of high school to pursue a riding career.
"After I started galloping, it was like, 'Wow, I like it,' " he said. "I've been doing it 11 years; I never thought about all the wins."
Rocco has been among Maryland's leading jockeys since he came from the New Jersey circuit two years ago. He and Wilson share third this meet behind Mike Luzzi and Edgar Prado.
On his 69th birthday, Willie Clark will be inducted into Charles Town's Jockey Hall of Fame Saturday night with a ceremony in the winner's circle.
The nation's oldest active jockey, Clark made his debut at Laurel in 1947 and has endured numerous spills to win with 1,141 of 10,614 mounts. Others enshrined include Bill Hartack, Sam Palumbo and Phil Grove.