Victor Espinoza a Winner Despite Eclipse Snub
Victor Espinoza a Winner Despite Eclipse Snub (Santa Anita Park Press Release): Last year, Victor Espinoza recorded victories in the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, and posted solid efforts in the Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Grade I races all. He was the regular rider of three potential champions and was a giving and gracious ambassador of the sport, but he won’t win an Eclipse Award as Outstanding Jockey of 2014.
What’s a man to do?
When you’re not one of the three finalists for the honor, to be announced Jan. 17 at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino, you can’t win. The three finalists are Javier Castellano, Joel Rosario and John Velazquez.
“I’m a little disappointed,” said Espinoza’s agent, Brian Beach, “because his body of work over the entire year, from January to December, was pretty good, and it wasn’t just a one-horse show.
“He rode the winners of nine Grade I stakes and was tied for third with Castellano in that category. He went to Royal Ascot and won a race there, and he did a lot of good things for racing throughout the year.
“There are four Eclipse Award finalists that Victor was a big part of (American Pharoah and Hootenanny, 2-year-old male; Take Charge Brandi, 2-year-old filly; and California Chrome, 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year).
“I don’t know how that stacks up in the history of Eclipse voting, whether there ever were three horses that won Eclipse Awards one jockey had ridden regularly, but it’s pretty impressive to me, anyway,” Beach said.
Espinoza couldn’t have been more obliging during the Triple Crown run, signing autographs, making public appearances, bantering with David Letterman on “Late Night” TV.
“Besides me, we had two or three other people handling all the requests for Victor,” Beach said. “Because he’s bi-lingual, the Hispanic media wanted time with him as well. Victor accommodated every single person and gave one-on-one interviews when he could, all the way until hours before the Belmont.
“In addition to Letterman, he rang the bell on Wall Street for the traditional stock market opening, did all the things he was asked to do, and was such a good sport about everything.
“Because this was his second time experiencing the Triple Crown (the 42-year-old Espinoza won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in 2002 aboard War Emblem), I think this time he was trying to enjoy it more. The first time, I don’t think he knew what to expect.”
Eclipse Awards Info & Finalists