Jockey Cristian Esqueda won the Hialeah Juvenile Invitational at Hialeah Park and led all Quarter Horse riders in wins last month on his way to being named the AQHA/Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Month for the month of January. The award is voted on by a panel of Quarter Horse racing experts for riding accomplishments and achievements for the previous month of racing.
On January 17th at his new winter home of Hialeah he took top honors in the Hialeah Junior Maturity Invitational aboard String Bet for trainer Elio Vazquez. Esqueda and String Bet would just get up in time from off the pace to beat favored Political Debut in the four hundred and forty yard affair at odds of more than ten to one. It was just the 5th career stakes win for the young rider who began his riding in 2011.
Things are beginning to pick up for Cristian though as he has now won an additional four stakes in the past year. He currently finds himself in third place in the Hialeah Park rider standings which has a strong colony of Quarter Horse jockeys on the grounds for their winter meeting.
Originally based in Michigan and riding primarily at Mt. Pleasant Meadows for the early part of his career, his first stakes win was aboard Fearles Fred in the 2013 Don Boyd Memorial Handicap at Mt. Pleasant. The young Esqueda then found a home three seasons ago at Indiana Grand Racecourse.
Over the past three years there Cristian has finished 9th, 14th and in the 2015 meeting he ended the meeting 4th in the final Indiana rider standings, one spot behind his younger brother Cesar who fished third.
He was the winner of two stakes last season at Indiana Grand including the Heartland Futurity aboard Woop Dee Doo and Bradford Stakes aboard Mesa Marvel.
Originally from Aguascalientes City, Mexico he is the oldest of five brothers and was recently blessed with a new born baby over the winter by his fiancé Stephanie ,who is the owner of the stakes winning String Bet.
Esqueda currently has 88 wins from 767 lifetime starts for earnings of $1.3 million dollars. For the month of January he led all AQHA riders with 16 wins and he was third in total earnings with $228,537.
The AQHA/Jockeys’ Guild voters are:
Steve Andersen (Daily Racing Form)
Andrea Caudill (Q-Racing Journal Editor)
Martha Claussen (AQHA Wrangler Aces Coordinator)
Chris Kotulak (Remington Park Handicapper/Analyst)
Don Stevens (Delta Downs Announcer)
Doug McPherson (Ajax Downs & Kawartha Downs Handicapper/Chart Caller)