Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the world and over the years, we’ve seen many extremely talented jockeys that were capable of squeezing every bit of performance from the horses. Jockeys are very important in horse racing, which is why they can earn quite a bit of money by winning races.
Even though horse racing is now global, there are few nations that have produced impeccable jockeys over the years. One of the countries is Mexico.
If we take a look at the best jockeys in the world, we can see that most of them come from Latin America, which is why we started to wonder why Mexico in particular produces the most elite jockeys.
The Birth of Mexican Jockeys
After horse racing began to increase in popularity after the Great Depression, many people considered becoming a jockey as a career choice. In fact, at that time in America, most of the jockeys and trainers came from Mexico and Central America and were considered migrant workers.
Soon after it was evident that Mexican jockeys and trainers were a good idea for horse racing, and their reputation started to climb as they win more races. At that time, most families in Mexico owned multiple horses, which means that these people grew up beside horses and had no fear of large animals.
Just because Mexican jockeys are very popular nowadays, we decided to highlight some of the best jockeys that come from Mexico.
Best Mexican Jockeys
Victor Espinoza is the first Latino to win the Triple Crown, thoroughbred racing’s maximum prestigious accomplishment. The feat requires winning a series of 3 races, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, against the exceptional three-year-antique horses in the world.
Since its inception in 1875, the Triple Crown has only been won 13 times. Mr. Espinoza won the Triple Crown aboard American Pharoah in 2015.
This accomplishment made the records books for two reasons; not best did he end up the first Latino Jockey to win the award, but he is also the oldest rider to win the triple crown.
Also, in 2015, Espinoza notched another win when he received the Breeders’ Cup Classic riding American Pharoah, becoming the first Jockey in records to win the Triple Crown and the Breeder’s Cup Classic. You can find his name among the winners of the Breeders Cup here: https://www.twinspires.com/breeders-cup/winners
In 2018 it regarded to many that Espinoza’s profession might be over when he becomes critically injured at some point in a fall riding Bobby Abu Dhabi at the Del Mar racetrack. However, despite all of the odds, he again to racing at Santa Anita Park in 2019.
Espinoza has won over 3,000 races, been offered the quality Jockey award 3 times, the George Woolf Award, the Kentucky Derby 3 times, and the Preakness Stakes 3 times. He made over $2.8 in earnings for himself and more than $200 million in prize purse earnings.
Here we have another jockey legend coming from Mexico who managed to build quite an impressive career in horse racing. It seems like 2012 was his year as he won the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby, and Preakness Stakes.
But that’s not all. A few years down the line he returned to American Horse Racing and managed to win the Kentucky Derby in 2016 again and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2015.
He has more than 1,200 career wins and there is no doubt that he is one of the best Mexican Jockeys of all time.
Angel and Ismael Valenzuela
The creation of hit Latin riders can be traced to two brothers, Angel and Ismael (Milo) Valenzuela. They have been born in Texas, raised in Mexico, and started their racing careers on bush league tracks in Arizona.
Even though they were not born in Mexico, they spent most of their professional journey as jockeys in this country. Their involvement around horses was based in Mexico after returning to the US to win some races.
In 1952 the older brother, Angel, started his career as a jockey in California at Hollywood Park. Milo followed his brother as a hot walker and a strong hand. In a course of a year, Milo has just started riding and has already surpassed his brother Angel in winnings.
In 1958 Milo won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and endured prevailing. He rode the mythical Kelso to twenty-two graded stakes wins and has become the number one cash winner in thoroughbred racing history.
In 1963 Milo won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award given to North America’s pinnacle thoroughbred Jockey. In 1968 he once again managed to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Before he retired, Milo had amassed over 2,500 wins. In 2008 he became inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.
Jesus is another jockey coming from Mexico with an impressive career as a jockey. Throughout his career, he managed to win more than 2000 races and he still participates in smaller events even at 49 years old.
Among the many races, his biggest accomplishment is winning the Preakness Stakes in 2011.