ARCADIA, Calif. (May 3, 2014)–In becoming the first California-bred to win the Kentucky Derby since 1962, California Chrome made worldwide headlines Saturday, and, he took a giant stride toward greatly enriching the life of Eddie Espinoza, 72, who resides in nearby Whittier.
A winner of the Santa Anita Derby Millionaire Contest on Santa Anita Derby Day, April 5, Espinoza not only cashed a Santa Anita-sponsored win wager of $7,500 for $26,000 on Saturday, he moved closer to a $1 million dollar jackpot should “Chrome” complete racing’s Triple Crown by winning his next two starts–the Preakness Stakes on May 17 and the Belmont Stakes on June 7.
Espinoza and his wife, Susan, watched Saturday’s Derby from Santa Anita’s Eddie Logan Suite on the track’s Club House turn with a group of family and friends.
“I was jumping up and down, especially my heart!” said Espinoza, a retired customer service executive. “I didn’t know the horse went up to 5-2, so I was really surprised we won that much money. I’m trying to get my wife to go with me (to the Preakness in Baltimore, Md.). I’m just amazed. I’m in awe and we thank God for these blessings, it’s unbelievable.”
Espinoza, who has been coming regularly to Santa Anita on Saturdays for “about 20 years,” reserves Sundays for his wife.
“We go to church and then we go to breakfast,” said Susan Espinoza. “This is so awesome and we are so grateful.”
Although Eddie Espinoza is ticketed for a trip to Baltimore in two weeks, he and his wife are adamant about where they will be should California Chrome be in search of a Triple Crown sweep at Belmont Park June 7.
“We’re going to watch it right here, on the front row, in the Eddie Logan Suite,” the couple said in unison.
Along with an $8,000 score in the Santa Anita Derby, the Espinozas have now collected $34,000 in winnings, courtesy of The Great Race Place, which will provide them with a $10,000 win ticket on the one and only California Chrome in the Preakness, which could set the stage for a million dollar score in the Belmont.