by Ryan Martin/Fair Ground Barn Notes
Former jockey Francisco Torres, whose retirement ceremony took place in the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots winner’s circle this past Sunday, may not be returning to the saddle, but the 48-year-old leading rider at five different race tracks will be still be as busy as ever as his attention shifts to becoming a jockey’s agent.
“That’s the plan,” Torres said. “Retiring, for me, was kind of hard to do up until the last incident that I had (on Thanksgiving Day) when (Mesoma) broke his leg. It was like the light bulb went off. I just knew that it was time because after that mishap, it was in the back of my head, ‘What if next time I’m not as fortunate?’ so after that my decision to retire was a whole lot easier than when I was participating.”
Two prospects that Torres could potentially represent are journeyman Samy Camacho who currently rides on the Tampa Bay Downs circuit as well as young rider Anthony Nunez who has spent a good portion of the winter at Turfway Park.
“My schedule is going to be the same if not harder because it’s going to be an all-day process,” Torres said. “It’s been about two weeks since I officially retired but I’ve been out on the backside every morning and people back there kind of laugh and chuckle and say ‘You’ve been out here more now than you were when you were riding’ and it’s true, but this is what I love to do. It’s in my blood and being that I rode for so many years and getting up so early working on the racetrack is installed in me. My eyes open up at four in the morning and I’m ready to go.”
Torres is quite familiar with suffering from riding having suffered from four neck injuries in his 32-year riding career. That being said, he is looking forward to being able to do something much less risky.
“The risks are limited,” Torres said. “I don’t have to take any risks anymore because I’m not on the back of a horse. The only thing is I just have to hope that nothing bad happens to my jocks because I’ve been there before.”
Born in Mexico, Torres was raised in Chicago, Illinois and regularly rode on the local circuit, where he secured riding titles at Arlington Park and Hawthorne Race Course in 2012, as well as the now defunct Balmoral Park. He has also won riding titles at Ellis Park in 1997 and Turfway Park in 1999. Torres rode in two Kentucky Derbies having piloted Celtic Warrior (10th in 1997) and Rock and Roll (14th in 1998) in the prestigious event. Torres retired with 21 graded stakes victories and career earnings of $68,884,993 as well as 3,194 victories, excluding a riding stint in Saudi Arabia.
Torres took some time to reflect on his 32-year career as a rider and shared some of his favorite memories in the saddle.
“Being leading rider at Arlington Park was huge for me,” Torres said. “Having grown up around Chicago, one of my dreams was not only to ride at Arlington Park but to be the leading rider and that came true.
“I was also very fortunate to have ridden for the Royal Family in Saudi Arabia and I rode there for over five years,” Torres added. “That’s a lot like riding for the President of the United States. There have been a lot of special moments in my career. What I’ve seen and what I’ve done and all the blessings I’ve had in my career as well as the ups and downs, I could write a book about my life story to be honest. You know what? That might be in the works!”