Los Alamitos establishing new jockey talent

Los Alamitos establishing new jockey talent

September 19, 2018 3:03 AM


Santa Anita is known for the Big ‘Cap, the San Gabriel mountains in the background, and the Santa Anita Derby that continues to produce Kentucky Derby winners.

Del Mar is known for the seven week party each summer, the cool ocean breezes, and the place where top stables debut their best 2-year-olds.

Los Alamitos is becoming known as the home of “The Apprentice”.

2014 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice Drayden Van Dyke won his first Southern California riding titles at Los Alamitos back in 2014. He recently won the Del Mar summer riding title and has developed into a go-to jockey for top trainers like Bob Baffert and Jerry Hollendorfer.

In 2017, Evin Roman swept all three Los Alamitos thoroughbred meet titles on his way to his Eclipse Award for top apprentice.

During the July summer meet at Los Alamitos this year, apprentices Assael “Asa” Espinoza and Heriberto Figueroa finished in a tie for leading rider with 12 wins apiece.

Going into this closing week of the L.A. County Fair meet at Los Alamitos, Espinoza and Figueroa are back at it once again, leading the jockey colony with nine wins each.

Among the most important wins for Espinoza was last Saturday’s finale, when he piloted Super Sol to a comfortable pace-pressing win as the favorite. Why was it so important? Super Sol is trained by Bob Baffert.

Figueroa has picked up a lot of business from trainer Peter Miller, who won the summer Del Mar training title in a runaway. Figueroa’s biggest win of the meet also came on Saturday when he rode Miller’s Kim K to victory in the $100,000 Barretts Debutante. It was the very first Stakes win for the apprentice.

Take a second look at each mount for Espinoza and Figueroa during closing week at Los Alamitos. Both will be on their respective bellies trying to get the utmost from each and every horse with an eye on the jockey title.

The experience and new developing associations with top trainers will only help both young jockeys at the upcoming Santa Anita autumn meet. Best of all, both apprentices may fly under the radar a bit when the racing shifts to that Arcadia track. That is where we horseplayers can benefit the most.

Collected, McKinzie Return: Trainer Bob Baffert’s arsenal gets even deeper starting this Saturday when 2017 Pacific Classic winner Collected returns in the $150,000 Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes on the same card where Los Alamitos Futurity winner McKinzie returns in the $1 million Grade I Pennsylvania Derby at Parx. Both will be ridden by Mike Smith.

Lindo Report Play for GT: Los Alamitos, Friday, Race 1 – Colormemoney (No. 7). This gelding has improved since being claimed by trainer Doug O’Neill. He was overmatched vs. older horses at Del Mar Sept. 2 and now faces his own age group. Outside post is perfect for a good pace-pressing trip.