California Chrome’s jockey ready for another shot at Triple Crown
(CNN) — A dozen years ago, jockey Victor Espinoza went into the Belmont Stakes on War Emblem with a chance to win one of sports’ great titles, the Triple Crown.
But the horse stumbled out of the gate and finished eighth.
Espinoza, who has been riding professionally since 1993, told CNN that he is excited to get a second chance for greatness on June 7 on California Chrome.
“I am ready for it this time, and I am prepared to get it done,” he said Tuesday at Santa Anita Park in California, adding that being in the situation before was a big help.
Espinoza said he was never worried about whether California Chrome would be able to wear a nasal strip, as he has in his past six races, all wins. That includes wins at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Stewards in New York voted Tuesday to change the state’s policy toward nasal strips on thoroughbreds.
“I think it was very nice of them,” he said. “I don’t know if it really helps him or not, but he’s been running with (them) so why change.
Espinoza spoke of his relationship with the horse, which he has ridden for the six-race winning streak.
“He loves to run, and I think he likes it when I let him know that I am in control,” Espinoza said. “I want him to listen to me, what I want him to do during the race, and I think he likes that.”
Espinoza said he was taking a few days to “shut down my mind for a little bit.” Even with the Belmont representing the biggest race of his life, he said he was even thinking about it yet.
Espinoza, who has more than 20,000 career starts, is scheduled to race twice at Santa Anita on Friday.
By Jaqueline Hurtado and Steve Almasy
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