Edwin Maldonado is not the leading jockey at Santa Anita this meet, but at five feet six, he's certainly among the tallest, and with 13 wins from 63 mounts, a gaudy 21 percent, he is fifth in the standings, thanks in the main to good luck and hard work.
The 35-year-old native of Columbus, Ohio, realizes competition is keen among riders at The Great Race Place, but he and his agent Vic Lipton adhere to a philosophy of full steam ahead, and it's paid off.
“We've been working hard in Southern California since I got back from Oaklawn Park a little over a year ago,” Maldonado said Saturday morning between workouts. “It's been tough because the competition is stiff, but we never give up.
“Vic and I have a good relationship and, if we fall, we rise again. We ride for a lot of different trainers and that gives us many options. I don't like to have all my eggs in one basket.”
Although he was born in Ohio, when he was six his mother returned to her native Puerto Rico. “I was raised there and went to school there,” Maldonado said. “When I turned 18, I came to the States.”
Riding was always in his blood and in his family.
“My uncle, Manuel Alicea, was a jockey. My grandfather was a jockey, so I wanted to be a jockey ever since I can remember,” said Maldonado, readily recognizable in the mornings donning his familiar red and black garb.
“When I was 18, I went to Texas and my uncle taught me how to ride.”
In 2001, Maldonado rode his first winner at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, the same town where Lipton was born.
All these years later, for lack of a better description, call it karma.
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