Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

California Chrome's jockey ready for another shot at Triple Crown

By Jaqueline Hurtado and Steve Almasy, CNN
May 21, 2014 -- Updated 0800 GMT (1600 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Victor Espinoza says 2002 has prepared him for this year's Triple Crown attempt
  • Twelve years ago his horse stumbled out of the gate at the Belmont Stakes
  • Espinoza says California Chrome likes it when the jockey shows who is boss

(CNN) -- A dozen years ago, jockey Victor Espinoza went into the Belmont Stakes on War Emblem with a chance to win one of sports' great titles, the Triple Crown.

But the horse stumbled out of the gate and finished eighth.

Espinoza, who has been riding professionally since 1993, told CNN that he is excited to get a second chance for greatness on June 7 on California Chrome.

"I am ready for it this time, and I am prepared to get it done," he said Tuesday at Santa Anita Park in California, adding that being in the situation before was a big help.

Here's a look back at the 11 horses who've managed the feat. Sir Barton was the first horse to earn the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, as it would come to be known, by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1919. Here's a look back at the 11 horses who've managed the feat. Sir Barton was the first horse to earn the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, as it would come to be known, by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1919.
Triple Crown winners
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
>
>>
Triple Crown winners Triple Crown winners
Do nasal strips for horses really work?
Introducing racing's "rock star." Introducing racing's "rock star."
'The fastest two minutes in sport'
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
>
>>
\'The fastest two minutes in sport\' 'The fastest two minutes in sport'

Espinoza said he was never worried about whether California Chrome would be able to wear a nasal strip, as he has in his past six races, all wins. That includes wins at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Stewards in New York voted Tuesday to change the state's policy toward nasal strips on thoroughbreds.

"I think it was very nice of them," he said. "I don't know if it really helps him or not, but he's been running with (them) so why change.

Espinoza spoke of his relationship with the horse, which he has ridden for the six-race winning streak.

"He loves to run, and I think he likes it when I let him know that I am in control," Espinoza said. "I want him to listen to me, what I want him to do during the race, and I think he likes that."

Espinoza said he was taking a few days to "shut down my mind for a little bit." Even with the Belmont representing the biggest race of his life, he said he was even thinking about it yet.

Espinoza, who has more than 20,000 career starts, is scheduled to race twice at Santa Anita on Friday.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 1041 GMT (1841 HKT)
Sculptures in driftwood
You may have heard of Glorious Goodwood, but what about glorious driftwood? Meet the artist turning beach detritus into stunning sculptures.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
He's won six Olympic medals on two legs, but Bode Miller's future will ride on four -- can he replicate his skiing success in the "Sport of Kings"?
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
As a jockey, Philip Blacker lived for the thrills and spills of horse racing. As a sculptor, his work captures the horror of World War I.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1512 GMT (2312 HKT)
Ever thought zebras couldn't be tamed? Think again. Gary Witheford has a remarkable way with wild animals -- which he proved after a pub boast.
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
The internet went wild for so-called "horse yoga" -- but there was something deeper going on that reconnects humans with the animal world.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1323 GMT (2123 HKT)
The going is always soft and the only permanent building is a toilet block. It's the antithesis to the pomp of Royal Ascot ... welcome to Irish beach racing.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 1107 GMT (1907 HKT)
Each August, over a thousand tents and hundreds of horses converge on Little Big Horn River in Montana for the Crow Fair and Rodeo.
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 0957 GMT (1757 HKT)
Show me the money! Hollywood star Tom Cruise was a big hit when he visited the Glorious Goodwood festival.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1241 GMT (2041 HKT)
Little-known outside the tribes of the Rocky Mountains in the American northwest, Indian Relay is a "magical" horse-racing relay.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1325 GMT (2125 HKT)
Now in his 50s, one of the world's most successful jockeys explains why he gave up acting to return to the sport that nearly crippled him.
Winning Post's Francesca Cumani is impressed by the all-round multitasking skills of Ireland's champion trainer Aidan O'Brien.
June 7, 2014 -- Updated 0853 GMT (1653 HKT)
 An infrared camera was used to create this image.) A horse and exercise rider head to the main track for morning training at Belmont Park on June 4, 2014 in Elmont, New York.
More people have walked on the moon than have won the fabled Triple Crown of U.S. horse racing. California Chrome is seeking to square that score.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
A long history of controversy made him the "enfant terrible" of horse racing, but veteran jockey Kieren Fallon is looking for redemption.
ADVERTISEMENT