It̵7;s a long way from Najran to California, but it’s the route Abdul Alsgoor took to become the first jockey from Saudi Arabia to race horses in the US.
The 23-year-old has done more than just race, though, becoming the first person in the state to win at the famed Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles.
“I’ve won 45 (races) so far this year,” Alsagühr said, “and I’m looking forward to continued successes, support from a trainer and the right horses to take me to the winners’ circle.” Trying to find.”
John Sadler, a trainer at Santa Anita, said: “He has been working horses for us and he is riding. He is making really good progress as a jockey. The point is, he’s excellent.”
Alsaghor was born and raised in Najran, where his father was a racing trainer. From a young age he knew what he wanted to be.
“My dad trained horses, and from early on, I wanted to be a jockey,” he said.
“It[when I was]17 years old, I told my father, ‘I want to ride horses,’ and my father used to say to me, ‘You’re going to be a little tall,’ and I said, ‘No I Nothing is going to be affected. (It) is something I really love and want to do.
From an early age, his father pitted him against far more experienced jockeys.
“Some older riders will say, ‘Why are you keeping this kid with us? You don’t care about him?’ And my dad used to say, ‘Just ride with him, don’t worry about him, worry about yourself.'”
In 2019, Alsagoor and his family moved to the US, where at the age of 19 he began training to become a commercial pilot. When he learned that his flight school, the Air Academy, was in the same town as Santa Anita Park, nothing could keep him from racing.
After overcoming obstacles and rejection, he was given the opportunity to be a workout rider for acclaimed trainer Bob Baffert to keep horses warm and in shape. From there he was able to compete as a jockey.
“I worked for Bob Baffert for a year,” he said. “It opened my mind a lot about racing, about really good horses and the quality of horses in Santa Anita and (the US) – it’s different from what we had back in Saudi.
“I started working on myself to become a jockey. Bob helped me a lot – a lot of trainers supported me, gave me horses.
“Starting out in America was really difficult because I came from an unknown world. There’s never been a jockey from Saudi who came to the States and started riding here.
Despite questions about whether he could really perform at a high level in America, he persevered.
“It was difficult, but the love of horses compelled me to do it,” said Alasgur.
Baffert’s faith carried the young man through when the going got tough.
“He gave me a lot of confidence,” said Alasgur. “When I said, ‘I’m going to leave,’ he’d say, ‘No, I need you—I need you to keep riding for me because you’re a good rider, you listen, you learn quickly. ,’ and he was saying, ‘You pick up on everything quickly, the way you come (and) after six months, you’ve become a different rider. I like the way you ride.’ It gave me a lot of confidence. He put me on a $1 million horse, a $2 million horse. He put me on a lot of great horses and it made me believe in myself.”
The COVID-19 pandemic halted Alsagore’s progress, as he had to stop all racing activity for more than six months.
Since then, however, success has come regularly, and although he cherishes all his victories, one race lives on in his memory above the others.
“My first turf winner,” said Alasgur. “It was a race here in Santa Anita. And it was inside rails, it was a smart ride, and that made me more confident. When you start riding with good riders, you have to learn quickly. Because there were so many talented riders, when you make a mistake, you can easily see it.”
Alsagur is now at home in the big ride and race.
“Trainer Peter Miller has a few horses, he’s been one of my supporters, he’s put me on a lot of horses,” he said. “A really good horse for me. He’s going to run on turf in the Listed Stakes. And hopefully we’ll be a winner. It’s a tough race, but at least I’m with good riders, in a good race , and it means a lot to me.
Alsagur says it is an honor to represent the Kingdom, but it also highlights the high potential of riders in the Gulf region.
“I’m very proud,” he said, “but there are a lot of talented riders in Saudi and the United Arab Emirates. Back home, we have very talented riders everywhere, but they don’t have the chance to come to the US. I know It’s tough, but I’m trying to prove that they can do it.
“I’m trying to prove that there are really good riders out there, I’m trying to push myself. I can’t represent anyone (others), I’m trying to represent myself. They See if I can, they can.