As America’s first Triple Crown-winning jockey in 37 years, Victor Espinoza helped Thoroughbred racing project a positive image far beyond the confines of the industry throughout 2015.
Accordingly, Espinoza, a 43-year-old native of Mexico City, has been selected by a vote of jockeys nationwide as the winner of Santa Anita Park‘s highly coveted 2016 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.
“It’s quite an honor for any rider to be selected by his peers as the winner of such a prestigious award,” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “And I would like to congratulate Victor on this great achievement.”
In addition to numerous national television appearances through the 2015 Triple Crown and last fall’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Espinoza also remained tireless in his efforts on behalf of cancer-stricken youth, donating a percentage of his winnings to support pediatric cancer research at City of Hope, in Duarte, Calif.
In addition to winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes (all gr. I), Espinoza and American Pharoah won last year’s Rebel Stakes (gr. II), Arkansas Derby (gr. I), William Hill Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I), and the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) by 6 1/2 lengths.
Born on a dairy farm near Mexico City, Espinoza is the 11th of 12 children. A three-time ESPY Award winner, Espinoza has three Kentucky Derby wins, three Preakness victories, three Breeders’ Cup wins, and he’s taken 11 Southern California riding titles.
First presented by Santa Anita in 1950, Espinoza is the 67th winner of the Woolf Award, which honors riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and Thoroughbred racing. The remaining four finalists for this year’s award, which can only be won once during a rider’s career, were Joe Bravo, Javier Castellano, Gerard Melancon, and Joe Steiner.
Espinoza will be presented with the 2016 Woolf Award trophy in a Winner’s Circle ceremony March 13.