Bryan Altman, CBS Local Sports
On Saturday at around 6:45 p.m. the eyes of the sports world will turn to Elmont, New York as American Pharoah attempts to become the first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown. Atop American Pharoah, as he has been for the horse’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes victories will be Victor Espinoza, the 43-year-old jockey from Mexico. Here are a few facts about the man that will be hoping to ride American Pharoah into the history books a few short days from now.
1. Espinoza Was Born On A Dairy Farm In Hidalgo, Mexico
Espinoza and his family lived in Tulancingo, the second largest city in Hidalgo for much of his youth. It was on the dairy farm where Espinoza first learned how to ride horses as a young child along with his brother Jose.
2. Espinoza Is One Of 12 Brother And Sisters
Espinoza is actually the second-youngest of all of his siblings. Of his family members, only his brother, Jose, became a jockey as well.
3. This Is His Third Attempt At A Triple Crown Win
Espinoza has won bother the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes three times each and each time those wins were back-to-back – giving Espinoza a chance at the Triple Crown. The three horses he’s won with were War Emblem in 2002, California Chrome in 2014 and American Pharoah in 2015. Espinoza is the first jockey in history to have three separate attempts at winning the Triple Crown and if he wins will become the first Latino jockey to ever win the Triple Crown as well.
4. Espinoza Has Never Won The Belmont Stakes
Even in years that Espinoza didn’t have a chance at completing the Triple Crown, he has never won the Belmont Stakes. According to the Washington Times, his best finish ever in the race was second in 2001 while riding A P Valentine.
5. He Has Earned $176,967,644 From 21,005 Career Races
In a career that has spanned over 20 years, Espinoza has earned almost $200 million dollars, thanks to an impressive number of first place finishes. Since 2000 Espinoza has at least 100 first place finishes to his credit in every year except one.
6. He Donates 10 Percent Of His Earnings To Cancer Research
Bill Dwyer of the Los Angeles Times reported that Espinoza began donating 10 percent of his earnings to City of Hope Cancer Research Hospital in the early 2000’s. Espinoza said “Sometimes, I forget to pay my bills, but I never forget about City of Hope.”
7. Espinoza Has Won 3,219 Races In His Career
10 percent of Espinoza’s winnings means that a lot of money has been going to the City of Hope foundation. Espinoza had won over 3,200 times and is clearly still a force to be reckoned with whenever he’s atop a thoroughbred.
However things turn out for Espinoza on Saturday, he’ll always be remember as one of the great jockey’s of his time. With his off-the-track contributions in mind as well, he’ll also be remembered as a great person.