Victor Espinoza (born May 23, 1972) is a jockey in American Thoroughbred horse racing. He began riding in his native Mexico and went on to compete at racetracks in California. He has won the Kentucky Derby three times, riding War Emblem in 2002, California Chrome in 2014, and American Pharoah in 2015.

He also won the Preakness Stakes three times, riding War Emblem in 2002 California Chrome in 2014 and American Pharoah in 2015. As of May 2015, he is the first jockey in history to enter the Belmont Stakes with a third opportunity to win the Triple Crown.

Victor was born on a dairy farm in Hidalgo, Mexico, the eleventh of twelve children. He and his brother José, his senior by three years, enjoyed riding horses on the farm; when he was 15 he traveled to Cancún to assist his brother as a Quarter Horse trainer. He paid for jockey school by driving a bus in Mexico City at age 17. Within a few years, Victor was racing thoroughbreds at Mexico City’s track, Hipódromo de las Américas. His first winner there was in 1992.

Victor then moved to Northern California, where by 1994 he was the leading apprentice rider at the Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields racetracks. A year later, he moved his tack to Los Angeles. His big break came in 2000 when he won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff aboard Spain. He rode his first Kentucky Derby in 2001, placing third on Congaree, and in 2002 he won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes atop War Emblem.

Between 2000 and 2006 he averaged 193 wins a year and twice finished third in total earnings among jockeys. However, his career entered a slump until he decided to refocus. As he explained, “One day, I woke up and I said ‘This is not how I’m going to end up my career.” He hired a new agent in January 2013, Brian Beach, and with a change in motivation, went on to obtain his 3,000th career win, aboard Flashy Delight, on May 31, 2013, at Betfair Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California.

After winning the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes on California Chrome, in June of 2014 Victor traveled to Britain to win the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot on the Wesley A. Ward-trained colt Hootenanny.

He has since ridden American Pharoah to win the 2015 Kentucky Derby, the 2015 Preakness Stakes, and is now set to make his third attempt at winning the Triple Crown with a win in the Belmont Stakes on June 6th of this year.

  • Connee Canfield

    “Nice guy, great jockey, Mom.” That’s what my son-in-law said after introducing my husband and me to a man with an open face and wonderful smile. Lalo put it a nutshell and said it well about Victor Espinoza. I am pleased to have personally met this most extraordinary individual in the racing industry…the man with a winning smile and character to match.

  • Bev

    We got to know Victor and see a lot of him when he rode Chrome to a years worth of victories, except the Crown. But he and Chrome ran a great race in the Dubai World Cup and took second place! He’s an amazing jockey and horses seem to love him, too. Congratulations on finally winning the Triple Crown Victor! You so well deserved that win. We had no doubts you’d land it this time! Good luck Victor in whatever you do. Dream BIG and go for it. Never give up!! 😉

  • Para una persona como Víctor Espinoza y su gran trayectoria habría que pensar en cambiar esa pequeña historia y hacerla memorable como lo es el, en realidad no dicen nada de su grandeza como jinete ni la mas importante ser humano.

  • Veronica Gregory-Michetti

    Hey my birthday is May 21 so the two Vees have it. LOL My name, Veronica. Thank you for all the fun watching you ride into the wind. It was so thrilling to see you live in Belmont win the Triple Crown. I also recently just saw the Haskell another great race. Keep it up Victor, you and American Pharaoh are the perfect racing team….
    Go gettum

  • Jeffrey Lesitsky

    It was great seeing you on California Chrome when you came to Philadelphia in 2014. A friend of a friend was the horse along side of Chrome when you were paraded in front of us. Here is a picture I got of you when I was on the rail

  • Carrie Wellman

    No matter how tired or muddy Victor always makes the time to stop and say “Hi” and a quick picture or autograph for fans when they wait. I have seen this countless times. He is such an incredible man and I am so honored to know him.

  • Good Luck in Dubai with California Chrome! You are riding horse power that is extreme! Horses and riders are being given more room in the spotlight for their sports accomplishments and are being given the tag of professional athletes. Horses are family friendly and so are their competitions.

  • Garcia visits everyone that is signing autographs of American Pharoah! He exercised AP while Victor Espinoza rode to victory!