For a jockey who began riding at Los Alamitos this season, Manuel Loza wasted no time in establishing himself on the nation’s top quarter-horse circuit.
Despite his inexperience and the fact he spent most mornings at a Mira Loma thoroughbred farm instead of galloping horses at Los Alamitos, Loza fared well for a first-year rider, winning 11 of 61 races. His 18% winning average was comparable to the track’s leading riders.
Loza, 25, won his first stakes race on Friday aboard Calyptra, a 2-year-old gelding trained by Paul Jones, who used Loza more often than other trainers. Then came a Sunday accident that left Loza with serious injuries.
On Sunday, riding in the 10th race, an 870-yard race for maidens, Loza was aboard Ajo Easy, who trailed the field down the backstretch. When pacesetter High Desert Bugs broke down, Loza was too close to avoid the fallen horse. Loza was thrown to the ground in front of Ajo Easy, who apparently fell on the rider.
On Wednesday, Loza was listed in unstable condition at Los Alamitos Medical Center, where he was taken immediately after the accident.
Jones spent Monday morning at the hospital while Loza underwent emergency surgery. According to Jones, Loza suffered a fractured skull and bleeding between the brain and skull.
Jones, 27, helped the 25-year-old Loza acquire his license earlier this season, and put him on several horses, including Calyptra, who, with Loza in the saddle, was never worse than third in five starts this year. Two of Loza’s 11 victories came aboard Calyptra, including the $10,000 Garden Grove Stakes on Friday, the first stakes victory for both Jones and Loza, and a maiden race in late June.
“He galloped horses for many years,” Jones said of Loza. “He’s been around horses all his life. He’s really a good kid, a nice, quiet kid. When he rode a horse, he was going to give it all he had.”
Loza lives in Pomona with two brothers, who have also been involved in racing. His older brother, Fernando, is a paraplegic, the result of injuries suffered galloping a horse a few years ago at Pomona. Another brother, Benjamin, works as a groom for an outfit based at Mira Loma Thoroughbred Farm.
Loza spent most of his time at Mira Loma, galloping thoroughbreds or quarter horses during the week.
Overall, August was a bad month for jockeys at Los Alamitos. Juan Limon, Jose Badilla Jr., G.R. Carter, Mike Burgess, Carlos Aguilar, Guillermo Gutierrez, Jim Lewis and Carlos Bautista were involved in spills or serious accidents at the starting gate. Lewis, who suffered a broken collarbone when Peggy Mom fell in the Cypress Stakes on Aug. 7, isn’t expected back for a few more weeks.
Carter was aboard High Desert Bugs and was also taken to the hospital after the 10th race Sunday, suffering from cracked ribs.
Last week was one that Carter would like to forget. He was disqualified Thursday night after winning the fifth race aboard Candyskin. As a result, he was suspended from Sept. 2-5 for failing to maintain a straight course and causing a disqualification.
Gutierrez, who finished second aboard Hava Princess, was also disqualified for failing to maintain a straight course and was suspended for the same days. The disqualifications resulted in third-place finisher Will Ya Got Trouble being awarded the victory.
Because of a program allowing suspended riders to participate in major races, Carter is still eligible to ride in the weekend’s two biggest races--the $65,000 Gold Rush Derby on Friday and the $150,000 Governor’s Cup Futurity on Saturday. He said Monday that his rib injuries would probably not affect his ability to ride.
“I’ll have to evaluate it in a few days, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to ride,” he said. “I won’t be riding a full card, which kind of works to my benefit. I’m sore all over.”
Carter will ride Rapid Champ, the top qualifier for the Gold Rush Derby, and Woodhouse in the Governor’s Cup Futurity.
Rapid Champ has won four consecutive starts at 870 yards, including a 2 1/4-length trial victory on Aug. 20. Owned by Edward Allred and trained by Bruce Hawkinson, the 3-year-old gelding ran fifth in his first two 870-yard starts, both $5,000 claiming races.
“He (Rapid Champ) was awful impressive in the trial,” Carter said. “He’s got a big run down the lane. When you ask him to go, he does. For a 3-year-old, he’s awful good.”
Woodhouse is the fourth-fastest qualifier for Saturday’s futurity. He had his second victory in four starts in the Aug. 21 trials. Carter had to choose between Woodhouse and Daily Triple for Saturday’s futurity. He rode Daily Triple to victory in the Kindergarten Futurity in June, but was beaten a nose by Tella Dash in the trials.
Los Alamitos Notes
Friday’s Chicado V Handicap was billed as a rematch between stakes winner Wealth and Make Mine Bud, but the two longest shots on the board, Bandobeduino and Sir Goldminer, stole the show.
Bandobeduino, who was fourth in the Vessels Maturity and fifth in the Go Man Go Handicap, won the 400-yard dash by a neck over Sir Goldminer and paid $82.40. Sir Goldminer, who was second in the Remington Park Championship in Oklahoma City in July, went off at 45-1.
Bandobeduino was ridden by Limon for owner Jens List of Westminster and trainer Jesse Maldonado. It was the 4-year-old gelding’s first stakes victory in 23 starts. Maldonado mentioned the Los Alamitos Championship on Sept. 18 as a next objective.