ARCADIA, Calif. (March 26, 2014 )–Victor Espinoza, regular rider of the brilliant 3-year-old California Chrome, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium as the Dodgers and Angels get set to begin their annual three-game Freeway Series which gets underway at 7:10 p.m.
A brilliant 7 ¼ length winner of the Grade II San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 8, California-bred California Chrome has thrust himself into the role of the early favorite for the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5, and is widely considered to be one of the top three prospects to win the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3.
Following his San Felipe score, Espinoza said, “He’s an amazing horse. He has been since the first time I rode him. He blew them away today.”
A native of Mexico City, Espinoza, 41, burst upon the national stage in 2002, as he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes aboard the Bob Baffert-conditioned War Emblem.
At five feet, two inches, Espinoza weighs a feathery 112 pounds and he should present a stark contrast to the likes of Yasiel Puig and Mike Trout.
Typically easy going, Espinoza was driving a bus in Mexico City prior to making the career switch to the saddle. Through 55 days of winter racing at Santa Anita, he is currently fourth in the rider standings with 33 wins, four of them stakes.
Through March 26, Espinoza has 3,099 career wins from 20,346 mounts, accounting for purse earnings of $159,644,227. He won his first race at Hipodromo de las Americas, Mexico, in 1992.