Angela Valverde of CTHF, groom Steve Kenny, Kevin Bolling and Mary Forney of CTHF, and jockey Victor Espinoza.
In a winner’s circle ceremony following Wednesday’s second race at Del Mar, Jockey Victor Espinoza presented a check in the amount of $10,000 to the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation (CTHF), to be used exclusively to assist southern California racetrack grooms. The check represented Espinoza’s total earnings at Del Mar Racetrack for Aug. 10-14, a week during which he had 3 wins, 5 seconds, and 4 third-place finishes from 25 starts.
Espinoza, a 39-year-old native of Mexico City, is one of the nation’s leading riders with more than 2,800 career victories and over $143,600,000 in earnings. He holds 11 southern California meet titles including three at Del Mar, where he had a record-setting seven victories on Labor Day, Sept. 4, 2006. Through Sunday, Aug. 13, he was ranked 7th in the jockey standings with 10 wins from 88 starts for the meet.
Espinoza said he came up with the idea of riding for a week on behalf of the grooms because they are so often overlooked even though they are such a vital part of horse racing.
“The grooms are important for everybody in horse racing” said Espinoza. “They take care of the horses more than anybody, sometimes 24 hours a day.”
CTHF chairman, Ken Smole, said, "Victor’s generous gift will be of enormous benefit to the racetrack grooms in Southern California. It is a thoughtful and admirable act. His gift is also very timely,” Smole added, “as the economic challenges in the racing industry over the past few years have led to decreases in CTHF's sources of funding."
CTHF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in the community of stable workers occupied with the care of Thoroughbred racehorses at California’s major racetracks, fair circuit tracks and state recognized off-track training centers. CTHF administers medical and dental services through its on-track clinics, making health care accessible and affordable for more than 5,000 backstretch workers and their families.