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5,000 and Counting for Earlie Fires : Milestone: Rider’s win Sunday makes him the 11th jockey to reach the victory landmark. He says he owes the achievement to quality horses. .

From Associated Press

Earlie Fires rode into the history books as the 11th jockey to win 5,000 races, then praised the horses that helped him along the way.

“You get good stock and you ride as well as you possibly can,” Fires said after reaching the 5,000 mark Sunday at Arlington International Racecourse. “You’re no better than the horse you ride.”

His 5,000th win came atop Tex’s Zing in the ninth race.

“I don’t know where my career is going from here,” Fires said. “I haven’t thought about 6,000, or even 5,001.”

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Fires, 43, was greeted in the winner’s circle by thunderous applause from the 14,872 fans. Fellow jockey Eddie Baird doused him with champagne.

Fires said he has no idea how long he’ll continue to ride.

“But I know what I’d like to do once I retire, whenever that’ll be,” Fires said. “I’d like to just take a couple of years off and think about what I’d like to do for the rest of my life.

Bill Shoemaker retired with 8,833 wins, the most of any jockey. Others with 5,000 or more wins are Laffit Pincay Jr., Angel Cordero Jr., Jorge Velasquez, Larry Snyder, Johnny Longden, Sandy Hawley, Dave Gall, Carl Gambardella and Chris McCarron.

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Fires rode six other horses Sunday before he hit the jackpot with his last ride of the day.

Tex’s Zing defeated three rivals in the 1 1/8-mile race and paid $2.80.

“I’m really happy I won with this horse, because he’s a game little horse and he’s an Illinois-bred. (Trainer) Bob Byrne has done a good job with him,” Fires said.

“And I’m happy it happened at Arlington because I’ve been riding here for 25 years and this is a wonderful race track.”

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