Oaklawn Park Press Release

Ezequiel Lara And Wes Hamilton (photo Credit: Anthony Schafer)

Ezequiel Lara, one of at least two apprentice jockeys scheduled to ride regularly at the 2019 Oaklawn meeting, didn’t have his first mount until he was 21, making him a relatively late bloomer in the industry.

“School was the main reason,” Lara, 22, said Friday morning. “I wanted to drop out and get out of it, but my parents wanted me to finish.”

Lara grew up near Remington Park in Oklahoma City, where his father, Martin, a former rider, works as valet in the jockeys’ room, before graduating from Del City High School in 2015.

Ezequiel Lara said he’s been around horses all his life, but his only riding experience before graduating from high school was “getting on a pony.”

“I had to completely wait until I was done, so I’m late, real late,” Lara said of his riding career. “I left my house right when I graduated. Right when I was 18, I left my house.”

Lara rode his first race Sept. 14, 2017, at Remington Park. He scored his first victory Feb. 13, 2018, at Sam Houston.

“Just a learning process to become a jockey,” Lara said. “It’s just not something you jump into. It’s a learning process.”

Lara said he’s fortunate to have somebody to lean on for advice. His agent is retired jockey Francisco Torres, who rode more than 3,000 winners in his career. Torres began representing Lara last fall.

“I’m learning a lot, especially with Cisco being right there,” Lara said. “We’ll talk after every single race. We’ll talk about something I could have done, something as simple as getting out of the gate good.”

Lara, who has 26 career victories, will begin his first Oaklawn meeting with a 7-pound weight allowance. He is named on two horses Friday – Officer Sid in the second race for trainer Randy Morse and Irish Marvel in the seventh race for trainer Jimmy DiVito.

“Just try new things,” Lara said. “I heard real good things about Oaklawn. Cisco was planning on bringing me out here.”

Other tracks Lara has ridden at include Fair Grounds, Lone Star, Indiana Grand and Laurel. Luis Fuentes, another 7-pound apprentice, is scheduled to ride regularly this year at Oaklawn.

Oaklawn’s leading apprentice jockeys the last two years, Katie Clawson in 2017 and Edgar Morales in 2018, were Eclipse Award finalists for the country’s top apprentice.