Victor Espinoza is a jockey in American Thoroughbred horse racing. He began riding in his native Mexico and went on to compete at racetracks in California. He has won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes twice, riding War Emblem in 2002 and California Chrome in 2014.
Espinoza was born on a dairy farm in Hidalgo, Mexico, the 11th of 12 children. He and his brother Jose, his senior by three years, enjoyed riding horses on the farm; when he was 15 he traveled to Cancún to assist his brother as a quarter horse trainer. Within a few years, Espinoza was racing thoroughbreds at Mexico City's premier horse-racing facility, Hipódromo de las Américas. He paid for jockey school by driving a bus in Mexico City at age 17. He then moved to Northern California, where by 1994 he was the leading apprentice rider at the Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields racetracks. A year later, he moved to Los Angeles.
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. Espinoza logged his 3,000th career win, aboard Flashy Delight, on May 31, 2013, at Betfair Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California.
He 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. On May 3, 2014, Espinoza won his second Kentucky Derby atop California Chrome. On May 17, 2014, Espinoza won his second Preakness Stakes atop California Chrome. He is 6 for 6 on California Chrome.
Espinoza donates ten percent of his winnings to the City of Hope to support pediatric cancer research.
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