Victor Espinoza wins three of the five Grade I stakes races at Santa Anita

Jockey wins three Grade I stakes


Jockey Victor Espinoza keeps reaching new heights of success, from riding American Pharoah to the Triple Crown last year to appearing on “Dancing With the Stars.”

At 44, he’s having the time of his life. On Saturday at Santa Anita, he won three of the five Grade I stakes races. He guided Gormley to victory in the $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes for 2-year-olds. He rode California Chrome to victory in the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes. And he got Stellar Wind home a neck in front of Beholder in the $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes.

“It’s good to be lucky,” he said. “That’s all I’m here for — to win. That’s why I worked hard and dedicate myself to be successful in my career early on. Now I have the chance and opportunity and I can’t waste it. I have to keep going until the day I retire.”


Stellar Wind defeated Beholder for the second consecutive race and set up a showdown with unbeaten Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.

“That’s next,” trainer John Sadler said. “We’re looking forward to it. We’re good on this track. She’s only lost once here before.”

Successful team

Trainer John Shirreffs and owners Jerry and Ann Moss combined to win the 2005 Kentucky Derby with 50-1 longshot Giacomo, and they pulled off another surprise in the FrontRunner Stakes with a wire-to-wire victory by the 2-year-old Gormley at odds of 11-1.

Gormley improved to two for two in his career. He’s a son of Malibu Moon. Favored Klimt finished second.

“You train in the morning and you hope they can improve in the afternoon,” Shirreffs said. “He’s a young horse. He’s learning. He needs to focus a little bit and once he gets focused he’s got it handled. He looks like a million bucks.”


Trainer Bob Baffert said of Klimt, “He got pretty far back early, and that gave him a lot to do. He just didn’t fire away from the gate. But he ran a good race; he closed.”

There was an oddity in the race. Secret House came out of the gate without jockey Santiago Gonzalez, and all money wagered on the horse was refunded because Gonzalez wasn’t aboard when the gate opened. He is scheduled to meet with stewards Sunday, because he was involved in another gate incident last week at Los Alamitos.

Filly wins for Baffert

Noted And Quoted won the $300,000 Chandelier Stakes for 2-year-old fillies for Baffert and jockey Rafael Bejarano.

Noted And Quoted is a daughter of the speedy sire The Factor, who never won beyond seven furlongs. But Noted And Quoted took the 1 1/16-mile race over With Honors and Zapperkat.

Avenge triumph


Avenge, an improving 4-year-old daughter of War Front, won the $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes at 1 1/4 miles under jockey Flavien Prat.

Avenge went wire to wire for trainer Richard Mandella.

“She’s getting better with each race,” Prat said. “She really surprised me out there today. Once I let it go, she really got comfortable and took the lead.”