Victor Espinoza

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This article is about the jockey. For the Medal of Honor recipient, see Victor H. Espinoza.
Victor Espinoza
Victor Espinoza.jpg
Victor Espinoza in the winners circle at the 2014 Preakness Stakes
Occupation Jockey
Born (1972-05-23) May 23, 1972 (age 43)
Tulancingo, Hidalgo, Mexico
Career wins 3,200+ (ongoing)
Major racing wins

Moccasin Stakes (1996, 2000)
Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (1999)
Hollywood Gold Cup (2000, 2015)
Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap (2000, 2001, 2004)
Del Mar Futurity (2001, 2004, 2006)
Sham Stakes (2001, 2005, 2006)
Wood Memorial Stakes (2001)
Providencia Stakes (2001, 2008)
Haskell Invitational Handicap (2002, 2015)
San Diego Handicap (2003, 2004, 2005)
Gamely Stakes (2015)
Delta Jackpot Stakes (2004)
Sunshine Millions Classic (2004)
Pimlico Special (2004)
Thunder Road Handicap (2004, 2006)
Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (2005)
Arlington Million (2006)
CashCall Mile Invitational Stakes (2006)
C. L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship (2006)
Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (2006)
WinStar Derby (2006, 2007)
Las Flores Handicap (2006, 2008)
La Cañada Stakes (2007)
San Felipe Stakes (2007)
Winstar Oaks (2006, 2007, 2009)
A Gleam Invitational Handicap (2007)
Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap (2008)
California Cup Distance Handicap (2008)
Tuzla Handicap (2008)
Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes (2010)
Del Mar Handicap(2013)
Santa Anita Derby (2014)

American Classics / Breeders' Cup wins:
Breeders' Cup Distaff (2000)
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (2014)
Breeders' Cup Classic (2015)
Kentucky Derby (2002, 2014, 2015)
Preakness Stakes (2002, 2014, 2015)
Belmont Stakes (2015) Triple Crown Winner (2015)

International wins
Dubai Golden Shaheen (2015)
Windsor Castle Stakes (UK, 2014)
Racing awards
ESPY Award for Best Jockey (2002, 2014, 2015)
Significant horses
War Emblem, Peace Rules, Behaving Badly,
California Chrome, Congaree
Declan's Moon, The Tin Man, American Pharoah, Bob and John, Secret Circle, Take Charge Brandi

Victor Espinoza (born May 23, 1972) is a jockey in American Thoroughbred horse racing who won the Triple Crown in 2015 on American Pharoah. He began riding in his native Mexico and went on to compete at racetracks in California. He has won the Kentucky Derby three times, riding War Emblem in 2002, California Chrome in 2014, and American Pharoah in 2015. He also won the Preakness Stakes three times, in those same years and with the same horses. He was the first jockey in history to enter the Belmont Stakes with a third opportunity to win the Triple Crown,[1] finally winning the elusive honor in 2015—becoming the oldest jockey and first Hispanic jockey to win the award.[2]

Background and early career[edit]

Espinoza was born on a dairy farm in Hidalgo, Mexico, the eleventh of twelve children.[3][4] He and his brother José, his senior by three years, rode horses on the farm; when he was 15 he left home and traveled to Cancún to assist his brother as a Quarter Horse trainer.[3] He paid for jockey school by driving a bus in Mexico City at age 17.[4][5] Within a few years, Espinoza was racing Thoroughbreds at Mexico City's track, Hipódromo de las Américas.[3][6]

Espinoza did not speak English[5] when he came to the United States in 1990. He moved to Northern California in 1992,[7] where by 1994 he was the leading apprentice rider at the Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields racetracks.[4] At the Bay area tracks, he started out very poor and lived in a tack room at the stables. Espinoza was described as "just a hardworking kid who was out there every day...But he kept getting better and better, and soon people started seeing the talent he had."[7]

A year later, he moved to Los Angeles.[3] His big break came in 2000 when he won the Breeders' Cup Distaff aboard Spain.[3] He rode his first Kentucky Derby in 2001, placing third on Congaree,[8] and in 2002, he won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes atop War Emblem.[3] Between 2000 and 2006 he averaged 193 wins a year and twice finished third in total earnings among jockeys.[3] However, his career entered a slump until he decided to refocus. As he explained, "One day, I woke up and I said 'This is not how I'm going to end up my career." He hired a new agent in January 2013, Brian Beach, and with a change in motivation[9] went on to obtain his 3,000th career win, aboard Flashy Delight, on May 31, 2013, at Betfair Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California.[10] After winning the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes on California Chrome, in June 2014 Espinoza traveled to Britain to win the Windsor Castle Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting on the Wesley A. Ward-trained colt Hootenanny.[11]

California Chrome and American Pharoah[edit]

American Pharoah with Victor Espinoza up
Espinoza on California Chrome in a public workout in September 2014

Espinoza became the first jockey in history to get three opportunities to win the Triple Crown[1] and earned back-to-back wins with California Chrome and American Pharoah in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, only the sixth jockey in history to do so.[8]

In December 2013[12] Espinoza was selected as the jockey for California Chrome by veteran horse trainer Art Sherman, who had used him as a jockey during Espinoza's years in Northern California.[5] Up to that point, California Chrome had won only 2 of his 6 starts.[12] Espinoza rode California Chrome to consecutive victories in the King Glorious Stakes on December 22,[12] the California Cup Derby on January 25, 2014,[13] the San Felipe Stakes on March 8,[14] and the Santa Anita Derby on April 5.[15][16] On May 3, 2014, Espinoza lengthened the winning streak as he rode California Chrome to victory in the Kentucky Derby, marking the jockey's second Kentucky Derby win.[3] On May 17, California Chrome placed first in the Preakness Stakes, also Espinoza's second Preakness win.[6] On June 7, Espinoza's 6 for 6 streak aboard California Chrome came to an end when, due to an injury sustained right out of the starting gate, the Triple Crown contender finished in a dead heat for fourth place in the Belmont Stakes.[17]

In the fall of 2014, Espinoza also became the regular rider of American Pharoah, trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Ahmed Zayat. Espinoza started with the colt's second race, the Grade I Del Mar Futurity on September 4.[18] The pair went on to win the FrontRunner Stakes.[19] The colt was scratched from the Breeders' Cup Juvenile,[20] but the pair reunited in 2015 with wins in the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby[18] American Pharoah and Espinoza then won the 2015 Kentucky Derby[21] After the win, Espinoza said, "I feel like the luckiest Mexican on earth.[22] However, his performance attracted some scrutiny as he struck the horse 32 times with his whip during the race.[23] On May 16, 2015, Espinoza and American Pharoah won the 2015 Preakness Stakes on a sloppy track, setting up Espinoza's third attempt at the Triple Crown.[24] Espinoza won the triple crown on June 6, 2015 with American Pharoah.

Espinoza became the first Latino jockey to win the Triple Crown, and, at age 43, the oldest.[25]

Other ventures[edit]

On August 25, 2015, it was announced that Espinoza will be competing on the 21st season of Dancing with the Stars.[26] He was paired with professional dancer Karina Smirnoff.[27] The couple was eliminated on Week 2 of competition and finished in 12th place.

Personal[edit]

Espinoza is unmarried and has no children.[28] He donates ten percent of his winnings to the City of Hope to support pediatric cancer research.[28][29] Following his Triple Crown win, he announced that he would be donating 100% of his Belmont Stakes earnings to the City of Hope.[30][31][a]

Year-end charts[edit]

Espinoza (right) with fellow jockey Martin Garcia at Hollywood Park racetrack in 2008
Chart (2000–present) Peak
position
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2000 7
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2001 11
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2002 6
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2003 14
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2004 3
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2005 7
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2006 3
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2007 11
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2008 27
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2009 20
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2010 23
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2011 19
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2012 49
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2013 24
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2014 8
National Earnings List for Jockeys 2015 4

Endnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The total paid to the winning horse at the 2015 Belmont was $800,000; jockeys typically earn 10% of the purse awarded to the horse

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Victor Espinoza will look for Triple Crown for a third time". NBC Sports. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  2. ^ "American Pharoah completes the Triple Crown, wins Belmont Stakes". Retrieved 2015-06-06. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Layden, Tim (May 15, 2014). "Victor and Jose Espinoza share a career but lead two different lives". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Arrington, Debbie (May 30, 2014). "The players behind California Chrome bring passion". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Crawford, Eric (May 17, 2014). "Preakness: From humble beginnings to riding Chrome". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Drape, Joe (May 17, 2014). "California Chrome Wins Preakness for Second Jewel". The New York Times. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Tompkins, Courtney (June 15, 2015). "Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza on his life-changing ride". The Pasadena Star-News. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Harris, Beth (June 2, 2015). "Belmont Stakes 2015: Victor Espinoza confident American Pharoah can win elusive Triple Crown". Herald-Sun/Associated Press. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Espinoza: 'Look Forward, Never Look Back'". paulickreport.com. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Victor Espinoza notches 3,000th win". PR Newswire. June 1, 2013. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Hootenanny stretches clear in the Windsor Castle Stakes". the-racehorse.com. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c Jerardi, Dick (June 6, 2014). "Espinoza has California Chrome on winning track". philly.com. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Santa Anita Park- January 25, 2014 – Race 10" (PDF). Equibase. January 25, 2014. Retrieved April 8, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Santa Anita Park- March 8, 2014 – Race 5" (PDF). Equibase. March 8, 2014. Retrieved April 8, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Trainers". Santa Anita Park. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  16. ^ Janack, Phil (2014). "California Chrome Looks to Shine Again in Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes". New York Racing Association. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  17. ^ Hoppert, Melissa (June 7, 2014). "Tonalist Wins Belmont Stakes, Denying the Triple Crown for California Chrome". The New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "American Pharoah". Equibase. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  19. ^ "FrontRunner Stakes result". racingpost.com. 27 September 2014. 
  20. ^ Claire Novak (28 October 2014). "American Pharoah Out of BC Juvenile". BloodHorse.com. 
  21. ^ "Churchill Downs - Race 11 -May 2, 2015". Equibase. Retrieved May 5, 2015. 
  22. ^ Evan Hammonds (3 May 2015). "Favored American Pharoah Wins Kentucky Derby". BloodHorse.com. 
  23. ^ "Espinoza's whip use on American Pharoah under scrutiny". Daily Racing Form. 
  24. ^ "Pimlico Race 13 May 16, 2015" (PDF). Equibase. May 16, 2015. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  25. ^ Almasy, Steve (June 6, 2015). "American Pharoah becomes first Triple Crown winner in 37 years". CNN. Retrieved June 6, 2015. 
  26. ^ Weseman, Lisa (August 25, 2015). "Victor Espinoza Joins the Cast of Dancing with the Stars Season 21". ABC. Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Dancing with the Stars Season 21 Cast Announcement". ABC. September 2, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2015. 
  28. ^ a b Dwyre, Bill (May 12, 2014). "Victor Espinoza has a cause beyond riding California Chrome to victory". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  29. ^ Harmonson, Tom (May 13, 2014). "Jockey Generous". Los Angeles Register. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  30. ^ "2015 Belmont Stakes Press Conference" (video). The Blood Horse. 8:50. June 6, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2015. 
  31. ^ Myrick, Steve (6 June 2015). "Bafferts, Espinoza donate Belmont winnings". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 

External links[edit]