17-year-old winning big at Turf Paradise as youngest horse jockey


by Alice Kleinpeter

Video report by Tyler Baldwin

Posted on April 4, 2013 at 10:23 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 4 at 10:40 PM

PHOENIX -- Ricardo Gonzales is only 17 years old, but the horse jockey is already making a name for himself as the youngest rider at Turf Paradise.

Gonzales came in 7th place for his first race at Turf Paradise but he quickly made up for the loss.

“I won my first race seven days later and the next day I won the other one,” said Gonzales.

Gonzales has had nine wins in a little over a month.

“He’s got a big advantage because…he’s petite,” said jockey manager Darrell Haire. “So he doesn’t have to watch everything he eats and he can feel strong all the time. This kids going to be special…I can feel it.”

He credits his father for getting him interested in the sport. His father had friends who were jockeys and they suggested that Ricardo consider jockey school.

His parents still live in Mexico but they still catch his races even though they are hundreds of miles away.

“I talk to them every day,” Gonzales said. “They like what I’m doing. And they always watch the races."

When asked what he likes best about horse racing Gonzales said, “The adrenaline, going almost 50 miles an hour on top of a horse. It’s pretty exciting.”

The horse jockey is at the stables at 5 a.m. and racing throughout the day. But he still has the same responsibilities as any other high school student and the homework is still there when he finishes the final evening race. Ricardo is taking online courses in an effort to graduate high school and fulfill a life-long dream.

“One day I want to be at the Kentucky Derby,” Ricardo said.

And if he continues this winning streak his dream might soon become a reality.