Bill Hartack, Bill Shoemaker, and fellow riders

The Hartack Memorial Award Recipients

Victor Espinoza

Victor Espinoza, 2015

Victor Espinoza was born in 1972 in Tulancingo, Mexico.  He was raised with his 12 other siblings on a dairy farm in Hidalgo, Mexico, where he learned to ride horses. Shortly after his 15th birthday Victor traveled to Cancun to assist his older brother, Jose, as a quarter horse trainer. Within a few years he began racing thoroughbreds at Mexico City's premier horseracing facility, the Hipodromo de las Americas.  In early 2015, Victor rode American Pharoah to victories in the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby that positioned American Pharoah as a favorite going into the Kentucky Derby. Espinoza had an outstanding 2015, becoming the first jockey to win the Triple Crown in 37 years, aboard Horse of the Year American Pharoah. After winning the Triple Crown, Espinoza guided American Pharoah to an impressive record setting win at the Breeder’s Cup Classic to complete the Grand Slam. Read more >>

Joel Rosario

Joel Rosario, 2014

Joel Rosario was born in 1985 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  He was raised with his 12 other siblings on a farm where they used horses and donkeys as transportation. At 13, Joel enrolled in the Dominican Republic’s jockey school and completed his training in 6 months.  By the time he was 14, Rosario was already a professional jockey and received his first career win at the Galapagos Hippodromo V Centenario.  Rosario started his 2013 season with a huge win in the $10 Million Dubai World Cup aboard Team Valor's Animal Kingdom. Less than a month later, Rosario raced through the mud and the muck to win the Kentucky Derby on Claude “Shug” McGaughey’s trainee, Orb. Read more >>

Mario Gutierrez

Mario Gutierrez, 2013

The son of a jockey, Mario Gutierrez was born in 1987 in Veracruz, Mexico and was riding quarter horses for his father, Mario Sr., in El Higo and Mexico City by age 14. In 2006, Gutierrez was discovered by thoroughbred owner Glen Todd and horse trainer Troy Taylor, and they convinced Gutierrez to move to Vancouver, Canada to ride at Hastings Racecourse. He won riding titles at Hastings Racecourse in 2007 and 2008 and garnered the attention of owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill at Santa Anita Park. In 2012, Mario piloted the 43-1 long shot I’ll Have Another to a victory in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park, and followed up with wins at the 2012 Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness Stakes. Read more >>

John Velazquez

John Velazquez, 2012

The winning Kentucky Derby Jockey aboard Animal Kingdom (2011), began horse racing on his home island of Puerto Rico. He honed his skills at New York's Saratoga Racetrack, Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack. John Velazquez has succeeded at winning races on the track while providing industry leadership off the track. As the top earning jockey in both 2004 and 2005, Velazquez has won over 4,200 career races, including six Breeders' Cup races, the Dubai World Cup, the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Oaks. Read more >>

Calvin Borel

Calvin Borel, 2010, 2011

A three-time Kentucky Derby winner and Louisiana native, Borel won the Kentucky Derby aboard Street Sense (2007), Mine That Bird (2009) and Super Saver (2010). The 2009 win was an especially momentous occasion in Thoroughbred racing as Borel rode Mine That Bird to victory despite 50-1 odds, the second-longest shot to win in Kentucky Derby history. Read more >>

Kent Jason Desormeaux

Kent Jason Desormeaux, 2009

Hall of Fame Jockey and three-time Kentucky Derby winner, Kent Jason Desormeaux won the Kentucky Derby aboard Real Quiet (1998), Fusaichi Pegasus (2002) and Big Brown (2008). Desormeaux, a Louisiana native, received the first Hartack Award. He was recognized for his 2008 Derby win and was honored for his two decades of achievements and victories in Thoroughbred racing. Read more >>

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