Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza is gearing up for yet another run at the Kentucky Derby. He has won the event in two of the last three years, most recently in 2015 atop American Pharoah.
“The Kentucky Derby is always special to win, and it’s not easy,” Espinoza said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “There are tons and tons of horses just for this race, and really, only 20 horses can run. If you have the right one, to be able to win the race is just incredible. It would be really special for me to win another Kentucky Derby.”
Espinoza became a household name in 2015, when American Pharoah became the first Triple-Crown winner since 1978, when Affirmed won the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont.
Espinoza, 44, called American Pharoah “one of a kind.”
“Obviously to win the Triple Crown, it takes one of a kind,” he said. “That’s why he’s so atypical. American Pharoah, he was special because he was unique in the way that, even when I got on his back and the minute I sit my butt in the saddle, his back, it was just like in this low motion. You don’t even feel like he’s walking. You don’t even feel like he’s moving. It’s like a plane when he’s up in the sky with no turbulence. It just moves. It’s hard to really tell you (what) that feeling (is like and how) unique (it is).”
Espinoza will ride Gormley at the Derby on May 6. He rode Gormley to victory at the Santa Anita Derby on April 8.
“Gormley, he’s an interesting horse,” Espinoza said. “He’s a little baby. He likes to do his own thing. He likes to play around. I’m not sure exactly how he can handle all that noise. In the morning, it’s funny. If he hears any noise, he wants to take off. And then in race, when he runs (and hears) all the crowd and the screaming, he’s more calm. I’m not sure why he behaves like that, so hopefully in the Kentucky Derby he handles it well and then he can go out of the gate in a good shape.”