Jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr., score a hard-fought victory aboard Go Joe Won in the $125,000 Shared Belief Stakes, Sept. 3, 2022, at Del Mar. (Benoit Photo)
Stable Notes By Victor Ryan
ARCADIA, Calif.—Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. reached a career milestone on Saturday when winning his 2,000th race aboard Mitico for trainer Paula Capestro.
Valdivia and Mitico were dispatched as the 2-1 second choice in Saturday’s sixth race, a six-furlong dirt sprint for $20,000 claimers who have not won three races. Valdivia and Mitico pressed the pace in third before surging to the front at the top of the stretch and kicking clear to win by 2 ¼ lengths.
Valdivia, a 49-year-old native of Peru, was beaming in the winner’s circle after the race.
“I’m on cloud nine,” Valdivia said before thanking his wife and family. He also noted his long relationship with Capestro, who he has ridden for since an apprentice.
“She has been riding me since I had the bug. I’m so happy she made it out here and I’m wearing her colors,” Valdivia said.
Valdivia won his first race at Belmont Park on July 10, 1994. In the second half of the last decade, Valdivia was the dominant force at Arlington Park near Chicago. He won four straight riding titles there from 2016-19.
The most notable of Valdivia’s 2,000 wins were the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Mile aboard Santa Anita-based Val Royal for trainer Julio Canani and the 2011 Belmont Stakes with Ruler On Ice for trainer Kelly Breen.
Following his run of success at Arlington Park, Valdivia began riding regularly again at Santa Anita during the 2019-2020 winter-spring season. His win Saturday was his third from 23 mounts at the Hollywood Meet.
“Belmont Park is where I started riding and I had some of my bigger wins, but I have always considered Santa Anita home,” said Valdivia, who is the nephew of recently inducted Hall of Fame jockey Fernando Toro. “I don’t think there’s a more majestic racetrack in the world than this. It is extra special.”