Apprentice Asa Espinoza, 18, tastes victory for the very first time by winning Friday's 7th race at Santa Anita aboard the Vladimir Cerin-trained South Texas Lingo. Born in Arcadia and raised near Mexico City, Espinoza is the nephew of Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza.
“I'm so happy,” said Asa, who connected with his seventh career mount. “I've been here about a year and a half and I've been working so hard for this.”
Their peers launched a traditional first-victory welcome before Asa returned to the jocks' room, dousing him with buckets of liquid at hand, followed by gobs of talcum powder, both overflowing onto Victor, visually christening them for all to see.
“Asa has been here over a year,” Brian Beach, agent for both jockeys, said Saturday morning. “He's been working horses in the mornings but we were waiting until he turned 18 last December for him to get his license, because his parents are back in Mexico.
“But he was born in Arcadia and went to Arcadia High School. He's been working a lot of horses for a lot of people and this proved to be a good result, because he's only had seven mounts, so it was faster than expected.
“He's got some good people in his corner,” Beach continued. “He lives with Victor so he's getting good advice on a daily basis, and I've observed a lot in 29 years as an agent, so the combination of those experiences helps a young rider avoid pitfalls he might otherwise not.
“Asa is a quick learner improving race by race. It's exciting. I think he has a big future.”
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