Hello, racing fans. I have to say how fortunate I feel that I have essentially been able to spend my love participating in a sport I love. The sport of horse racing has been so unbelievably good to me – it’s amazing that I’ve gotten to be a jockey for all these years. Thanks to the animal I love, I’ve been able to live my dream for all of these years. And I have to say, I’ve told you guys a bit about my time racing in Tijuana, but it wasn’t until I came to the jock’s room at Santa Anita that I really knew what racing was. When I came to southern California to race for the first time, I was in the presence of horse racing jockeys who I had idolized growing up – people like Gary Stevens and Bill Shoemaker. The first season I was racing in the Santa Anita meet, I can remember that my parents were driving down all the time from northern California. There was this one time, I was sitting in the jock’s room and I was done in the fourth race. There was a horse that somebody had taken off in the last race who had a blind left eye and was 20 or 30 to one in the program. But I sat there all day, just hoping no one would pick him up so that I could ride him. But that’s how it is when you’re young – it’s not about how good the horse is or what race he’s in. Instead, it’s just all about riding in another race.
You know, sometimes people ask me which of my racing wins has meant the most to me. I’ve been fortunate to win some really nice races throughout my career as a jockey, but there is one that will always mean more to me than any other. Towards the end of my first Santa Anita meet, my dad was leaving southern California to visit my brother in northern California. I can remember that we had already said goodbye and he had gotten in his car and drove down a couple of houses already. But he stopped, backed up, then got out and hugged me. He said “I love you son. Go win a race for me tomorrow.” Later that night, I got the devastating news that my father had passed away. I can remember that I let my mom know within an hour that I needed to ride the next day. Obviously, she didn’t think that was the greatest of ideas, but I told her that I had to go win, since it was the last thing my dad said to me. So that next day, I went to a track. It was a rainy mess, just a really sloppy day. I didn’t have much success in the first couple horse races that I rode, but then I rode a filly named Tom’s Sweetie. She came from last place and started moving up at the half mile pole. And then at that time, I just felt that I was going to win. I felt that I was going to get the win that day for my dad. And I ended up wining that horse race with Tom’s Sweetie. And no matter how many horse races I win, no win will ever mean as much to me as that one did. And you know what,so many years later, I still love the sport of racing just as much as I did on the very first day I rode.