Crete, IL --- After posting win No. 999 in the final race on Saturday night at Balmoral Park, it did not take John De Long very long to reach the coveted 1,000 victory plateau as he guided Little Warriorette to victory in Sunday’s (April 6) third race, which was the first drive of the night for the 25-year-old resident of Clinton, Wis.
|David Baum photo|
|John De Long guided Little Warriorette to victory in Sunday's third race, giving the 25-year-old reinsman his 1,000th career victory.|
Carving out a perfect two-hole trip with the Erin Elliott trained 4-year-old, De Long roused a :28.3 final quarter from Little Warriorette as the mare went on to score in 1:56.3, knocking more than seven seconds off her previous career best.
De Long, who enjoyed his biggest year to date in 2013 when he posted 283 wins, 239 seconds and 235 thirds in 1,789 starts with purse earnings of more than $1.9 million and a UDR of .276 is off to another fast start this season with a .331 UDR as he continues to rise through the driving ranks on the Chicago circuit.
The son of longtime horseman Jay De Long has been around horses his entire life, working around the family’s stable with younger brothers Austin, Ben and Eric for as long as he can remember. His first victory came in thrilling fashion as he guided West Bound Train to a nose victory in a track record time at the Keokuk County Fair at the age of 16.
After reaching the coveted milestone on Sunday night, De Long took a moment to reflect on how far things have come in such a short time.
“Back when I won my first race I thought this would be a great thing to do as a hobby,” said a beaming De Long. “But then it just gets in your blood and now I couldn’t see myself doing anything but this.”
Courteous as always and quick with a smile or a greeting, De Long in typical fashion wanted to be sure everyone else was acknowledged after Sunday’s big night.
“I can’t thank my family and friends enough for all their support throughout the years,” said De Long, who was joined by a large contingent in the winner’s circle. “It’s been a thrill and to get to a number like this is very gratifying. Without the support of all the horse owners and trainers who have used me to drive their horses, something like this would never have been possible.”