"I am the eldest of six siblings and the second person in my family to graduate from high school. My mother only completed high school. Several of my cousins dropped out of high school due to lack of family support and encouragement, and growing up in the harsh environments of south San Diego. Because my father and mother did not attend college, earning a higher education was always encouraged. Today, I am a first generation college student.
"I successfully graduated from Chula Vista High School in June 1998. Because of my academic and athletic talent, I was recruited to play for several universities. Due to my family responsibilities and lack of financial support, I was forced to pass these opportunities up.
"I applied to San Diego State University (SDSU) and began my undergraduate studies in Fall 1998. I am working toward a B.S. degree in Kinesiology, with an emphasis in Health, Food, and Nutrition. In addition to my academics, I play for the SDSU Division 1, Women's soccer team. Currently, I am in my fourth year, and I will graduate in May 2003. My next goal will be to earn a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology. However, if given the opportunity to play professional soccer, I would look forward to that challenge."
Arinda's father is Felipe Zubieta. He is an exercise rider currently working for trainer Barry Abrams.
Miguel A. C.
Miguel is currently enrolled at Cal Poly-Pomona. He is pursuing his goal to complete college and move on the graduate school to become an Aerospace Engineer. In high school, he was impressively involved in several extra curricular activities and programs. He was first president of the AVID Club, and participated in the Upward Bound Program, LULAC, California Scholarship Federation, MESA, Physics Club, JROTC, and has been president of the MECHA Club. Miguel' community service includes volunteering as a tutor for high school students in all math levels up to Pre-Calculus, Pomona High School library assistant, and St. Madeleine's Confirmation Church as an assistant.
Miguel's mom, Guadalupe, is a groom in the Southern California racing circuit. More recently, she worked with the Godolphin stables and then for trainer Alexis Barba.
Michael is attending Devry University in Pomona. He is working on acquiring a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, with the ultimate goal of forming his own business. "It would be a great accomplishment if I could come back and put to use my acquired knowledge and education within the horseracing industry."
Horseracing has played a big role in Michael's life. Many members of his family have worked in this industry as exercise riders, horse trainers, assistant trainers, grooms, and hot walkers. "I believe that horse racing belongs in our family's blood," says Michael. "I often visit the racetrack with my father on race days and truly enjoy watching the horse races. Since I was a child, I was attracted to horse racing, and was amazed by the speed and size of the horses. My dream was to become a Jockey, but I soon discovered I was just too big. Now my dream is to become a trainer or owner one day."
Michael's father is Eloy Cuenca. His uncle, Arturo Calva, a trainer at Pomona Fairplex, introduced him to this industry. He was offered the opportunity to work with his uncle at the track and follow the family's path into horse racing. Beginning in the late '80's as a hot walker for Calva, he later became a groom and has worked with various trainers such as Michael G. Harte, Eric J. Kruljac, Frank Jones, Tony Dee, Patrick L. Biancone, Jeff Metz, and Gene Cleveland. He currently works for Darrell Vienna.
"I'm thankful for all the help I have received from everyone. I especially thank my parents for their sacrifices and efforts toward my future success. They have been able to provide me with the essentials, they have been great motivators and have supported me every step of the way."
Jennifer Lee F.
Jennifer is currently enrolled at Cal Poly Pomona studying Animal Industries and Business Management. She first intended studying the Equine Industry Option under the Animal Science major, but has since decided to broaden her studies.
Presently working part-time for trainer Jenine Sahadi, Jennifer states that she would like to keep horse racing a part of her future career. "My love of horses has come from my dad's involvement with thoroughbreds and from the excitement this industry has to offer."
Jennifer's father, Charles Friday, entered racing as an exercise rider in 1965, working horses at Rex Ellsworth's ranch, then moving on to work with trainer Charles Comisky. John Russell soon after contracted him as an apprentice rider, but weight challenges stopped him after seven races. He next became assistant trainer for Lou Carno then Tom Estimo, finally becoming a public trainer in 1977 through 1989, with stakes horses PRINCE PALMER, OUR PAL MICHAEL, THANK YOU WALKERS, and ILATAN. Charles later returned to exercising horses for trainers such as Grant Hofmans, Peter Levine, Ron McAnally, Bill Spawr, and currently with trainer John Shirreffs. He has exercised the stakes horses OLYMPIC CHARMER, EXCHANGE, BEAUTIFUL NOISE, DEXTER DRIVE, MANISTIQUE, CLIQUOT, LAQUARIA, COOL MOOD, IVY'S PRINCE, BOLD JOEY, and NEVADA MARGA.
Esmeralda is currenly enrolled full-time at California State University of San Bernardino. Her favorite subject of Math has led her to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. She presently carries a GPA of above 3.5. As a high school student, Esmeralda was a varsity level member of both track and cross country teams, German National Honors Society, the National Honor Society, and tutored students struggling in German language classes.
Indalecio Gomez, father of Esmeralda, left his home in Yahualica Jalisco, Mexico, at age twelve in search of work. His responsibility was heavy, as he had become the sole supporter for his mother and two younger sisters. Indalecio believed the United States offered the opportunity and assistance he needed to care for his family, and came to California with his uncle to work on the racetrack. Thirty-two years have passed since his start as a hot walker in the days when the pay was $1 per horse. Through the years he moved upward to groom, and is now foreman/assistant to trainer Sandy Shulman. Indalecio is proud to have worked with FABULOUS NOTION, THIRST FOR PEACE, and SPIRITED JACLYN, among many others.
Esmeralda's mom, Maria, is also a native of Jalisco, Mexico. She is actively involved in various committees at her children's schools, including Vice President of the school district Bilingual Committee.
Alejandrina has completed two semesters at San Diego City College, preparing for her transfer to San Diego State University. There, she will major in Liberal Studies, and it is her desire to become a Kindergarten teacher. Alejandrina expresses that, "At this time, I am doing well. Each semester gets tougher, but I am doing my best and steadily improving and acquiring the education that I am seeking."
Guadalupe Navarro, father of Alejandrina, is from Guadalajara, Mexico. In 1990, through word from friends about the great opportunity to work in the horseracing industry, he began as an exercise rider for trainer John Russell. In 1992 and since then, he has worked for Bob Baffert, exercising horses SILVER CHARM, REAL QUIET, CONGAREE, SILVER BULLET DAY, and WAR EMBLEM.
Melissa attended Mount St. Mary's College where she began studies to become a college English Professor. While there, she joined as a member of the Voices Latina Club and Ambassador Program. She is now enrolled at California State University-Los Angeles, double majoring in Philosophy and English, with a minor in Religious Studies. Melissa has worked at Roosevelt High School for the past three years as an Assistant College Counselor and Testing Coordinator.
For most, finding a job that you love is a tough task in itself. Coming from a foreign county with not much in your pocket only adds to the difficulty. Born in Pihuamo, Jalisco, Mexico, this was Pedro Rangel's experience coming to California 33 years ago. He found a job at a restaurant, but it wasn't what he wanted to do. Having heard about the racetrack, he got a job grooming horses with Northern California based trainer Don Porter, and within days experienced a great appreciation for horses and the industry. He has since worked in horse racing with trainers John Longden, Darrell Vienna, and Jim Sacco. Horses Pedro has cared for include KRIS S., KANGAROO COURT, and REGAL BEARING.
This father of three now works for trainer Sanford Shulman in the Southern California racing circuit. His oldest daughter is an alumnus of USC. He now looks forward to seeing Melissa achieve the educational goals she has set forth for herself.
Melissa tells us that, "I received the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation scholarship this year and it assisted me tremendously. Without the help of the Foundation, I may not have been able to afford this year's tuition. It's a good feeling to know that there is a foundation that prides itself on giving back to the families of the men and women who have worked hard in the Thoroughbred Industry. Much thanks to all of you."
Maria was born in Sanger California where she lived for the first four years of her life. Her family returned to Mexico for nine years. At thirteen, her family moved permanently to San Pablo, California.
"Like everyone else, I came to this country with a lot of goals and dreams. I wanted to become a pediatrician. As a young child, I became involved in the UNICEF Foundation. There I used to take care of children who were sick and abandoned. That gave me a unique sense of fulfillment and purpose, and I continued with the goal of helping more people."
Maria is presently attending Contra Costa College. She is in her second semester and plans to soon transfer to a university. "Before I enter the pediatrics doctorate program, I would like to become a registered nurse specializing in pediatrics," says Maria. "In addition to attending college, I am working as a hospital volunteer."
Maria's parents were born in Michoacan, Mexico. Her father, Alfonso Tamayo, has been an American citizen for eight years. Alfonso came to California at age 21, and has lived longer in the United States than in Mexico. With the experience he gained from caring for the horses on his father's farm, he was given the opportunity to work at Old English Rancho with owner Buddy Johnston. His employment with Johnston continued for twenty-five years. He later became an assistant trainer for a Donald Warren, Lonnie Arterburn, and Gil Matos.
Jenny is attending Citrus College where she is focusing on an Associates Degree in Liberal Studies in order to assist in her later transfer to CSULA. There she hopes to become credentialed enabling her to teach children at the elementary education level.
"My father, Ignacio Vazquez, grew up in Mexico on a ranch with his parents and ten brothers and sisters. He helped maintain the growing crops and the animals they owned. There he learned to take care of horses and later learned to gallop them."
In 1971, a friend introduced Ignacio to racing at Mexico's "Hipodromo de las Americas." In December 1973, he won his first race as a jockey. It was an experience he would never forget, and an experience that has been a fulfilling part of his life. In the following years, Vazquez made his way to Tijuana and then the Southern California racing circuit as an exercise rider. He was worked for trainers Tommy Dole, Beau Greely, Alfredo Marquez, and recently, with Ted West. He has ridden horses such as FIVE STAR DAY, MANDAR, TAKARIAN, and TIZNOW.