News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. June 4, 2015: Mexican-born jockey Victor Espinoza is hoping to make history and win a Triple Crown this weekend.
Espinoza is set to ride Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah at Belmont Park in New York on Saturday June 6th for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
The 43-year-old Mexican immigrant has already made history going into this race. As of May 2015, he is the first jockey in history to enter the Belmont Stakes with a third opportunity to win the Triple Crown.
From his humble beginning as a kid born on a dairy farm in Hidalgo, Mexico to a family of 12, Espinoza is now living his dream as the top jockey in the US.
His big break came in 2000 when he won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff aboard Spain; and in 2002, he won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes atop War Emblem.
Between 2000 and 2006 he averaged 193 wins a year and twice finished third in total earnings among jockeys.
In 2013, he secured his 3,000th career win, aboard Flashy Delight at Betfair Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California. 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.
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, 2014. The pair went on to win the FrontRunner Stakes but the colt was scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The pair reunited in 2015 with wins in the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby. American Pharoah and Espinoza then won the 2015 Kentucky Derbyand on May 16, 2015, they won the 2015 Preakness Stakes on a sloppy track, setting up Espinoza’s third attempt at the Triple Crown.
American Pharoah is attempting to become only the 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978. The 2-year-old male champion is undefeated in 2015, winning the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill, and the Grade 1 Preakness at Pimlico Race Course.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, under the watchful eye of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who arrived in New York Tuesday, the Zayat Stables homebred son of Pioneer of the Nile had an uneventful and easy jog around the racing strip under regular exercise rider Jorge Alvarez.
“He took him out to the three-eights, or the half mile pole and he was so strong when he got onto the track he was just marching right along. He was really full of himself so I called an audible on the radio with Jimmy (Barnes, assistant trainer) because he was pretty strong so we let him jog all the way around,” Baffert said of the dual Classic winner American Pharoah, who arrived on the grounds late Tuesday afternoon from Kentucky. “It was better off that way. Otherwise he would have wanted to gallop and get too tough down the stretch.”