Edwin J. Gregson Foundation
Castaneda has been a licensed worker in the California thoroughbred industry for several years; however, the necessity to begin work at an early age and attend to his family responsibly put off finishing high school. Castaneda has moved up the ranks to assistant trainer, but his desire to complete school remained in his thoughts. The Edwin J. Gregson Foundation provided the funding for home study courses, and through hard work, he has obtained his high school diploma.
Kathleen tells us, "I am currently enrolled at California State University Fullerton. As a freshman, I am beginning my studies for the major of Communications, with an emphasis in Journalism. My first semester went well, I surpassed my own expectations and received a grade point average of a 3.67. I recently joined an on-campus program called the Student Leadership Institute. I decided to take the SLI program to become an active student, and a stronger leader on campus, and then eventually in the work force.
"I am presently working part-time on the CSUF campus as a certified USA level four competitive gymnastics coach. My background in gymnastics played a vital role in my qualification for this position, being that during my career I received the title of state champion in my division on the vault in 1997.
"My father, John Cisneros, started his career in 1984 as a jockey at Santa Anita. He traveled to San Francisco to do his apprenticeship, and after four months of a successful meet, he returned to Southern California. He raced at Santa Anita, Del Mar, and Hollywood Park. After the end of his five-year jockey career, my father worked three years with trainer Clifford Sise, Jr. as an exercise rider. My father is currently working for trainer Mike Harrington and is in the process of becoming assistant trainer. He has ridden some nice horses for Mike over his ten years, highlighted with horses such as Swiss Yodeler, Yolo Lady, and Breeders' Cup runner Buck Trout."
Maria Elena Escalona
Maria attended local Duarte High School, commendably earning a place on the Principal's Honor Roll, and graduating the 12th grade with a 3.75 GPA. She is currently attending Pasadena City College, and will transfer shortly to Azusa Pacific working toward becoming a computer network administrator.
Noe Escalona, Maria's father, was born and raised in Mexico City, beginning his career in horseracing at age 13. His interest in the industry originated through family members, as five of his uncles were thoroughbred trainers in Mexico. He attended Mexico's famous "Hipodromo de las Americas" jockey school, moving to Tijuana at age 15 to begin his career as a jockey. Coming to America in the '80's, he became an exercise rider and has since worked with various trainers such as John Sadler, Ed Moger, Jr., Jack Carava, and Clifford Sise, Jr.
Irma Lisette Espinoza
Irma tells us that she dreams of doing many things, but there is not enough time to do it all. She begins her journey attending East Los Angeles Community College to obtain an Associate of Arts degree, then will transfer to Cal State Los Angeles to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Education. She wants to be involved with children as a counselor or teacher.
Irma says, "If I successfully accomplish my goals, I will be the first in my family to graduate from college. I am very proud of my family. My brothers support me and my mother returned to school to become an x-ray technician. My father works very hard to give me what I need in life. In return, I will repay him with love and make him proud by becoming who I want to be."
Irma's father is Salvador Espinoza. He comes from La Manzanilla, Jalisco, Mexico at age 20 through the invitation of a friend who worked at Santa Anita. His intended brief visit quickly turned into permanent residency as he was offered work immediately to groom horses. He initially worked for trainer Joe Manzi, then with Jimmy Jordan as groom for Fabulous Notion, and is currently working for trainer Sandy Shulman as groom for Champion Light.
Christina R. Limon
Education is an important factor in Chistina's life as it is the key to her dreams and future success. She attended Fullerton College, where she became involved in the Transfer Achievement Program (TAP), The Latina Leadership Network Club (LLN), and the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honors Society.
Christina received an AA in Business Administration in two years, and transferred to Cal State University Long Beach (CSULB). She is now in her second year at CSULB as a Business Administration major, with an emphasis in Marketing. At CSULB, she has joined the Law Society, Pac Rim Association, and American Marketing Association (AMA).
Christina is also a member of the La Habra Host Lion's Club and an advisor of the Leo's Club of La Habra. She volunteers occasionally at the La Habra Life Center, was involved in organizing the Alumni Association for the Boys & Girls Club of La Habra, and during the holidays is a church volunteer on the Art & Environment team, decorating for each season. Christina says, "I try my hardest to help my community as much as possible. My goal is to give back to the community was given to me."
Speaking of her father, Tirso Limon, Christina says, "The racetrack is my father's other home. He has worked there since before I was born, roughly thirty years. My father's hard work and dedication to his career has had a positive influence on my outlook on school, life, and my future career." Tirso currently works for trainer E.G. Burnison.
Cesar was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He is employed as a hot walker/barn assistant for trainer Duane Offield. Cesar has begun his courses at California State University Hayward pursuing his interests in veterinary medicine, agriculture, and photography. His academic goals are to earn a B.A., next obtain a Master's degree and, eventually, complete a doctorate program.
Cesar is a member of an Albany District program that offers advanced students in photography the opportunity to train elementary school teachers the use of digital cameras and software to process pictures and print. Speaking both English and Spanish fluently, he wants to continue the advancement of his academic career and represent the best of his culture, community, and self. In relation, he helps students who study Spanish, meeting with them after school, and practicing and learning the Spanish accent. Cesar expressed, "It is a satisfying experience as I feel my Spanish can serve others and help them value and appreciate the language. It is a pleasure to work for my community."
F. Faviola Salinas
Faviola is currently attending Citrus College. She describes herself as ambitious and determined and is striving to further her education to, ultimately, earn a degree. Faviola says, "The fact that my father has worked in racing his whole life has influenced me greatly. The track environment has made me think of specializing in equine science and becoming a vet."
Faviola's parents, Roberto and Maria Salinas, both currently work for trainer Bruce Headley. They look forward to seeing Faviola achieve the educational goals she has set for herself.
Cathleen Marie Serrano
Kathleen has chosen Kinesiology as her double major field of study. She is currently taking courses at Cal Poly Pomona, planning to continue there for four years, then transfer to USC or UCLA to earn her Graduate's degree.
Kathleen describes herself as very involved in various activities, enjoying helping people. In her middle school and high school years, she was on the drill team, a part of the Color Guard, a student counsel member, track and cross country runner, and member of the soccer team.
Cathleen's father is Oscar Serrano. Born in Jalisco, Mexico, he began his career at the young, delicate age of 9, competing in match races throughout his native country. At age 14, Serrano came to California working in rodeos, and progressing to his current occupation as an exercise rider in the state's racing circuit. He has worked for trainers Larry Sterling, Ron Ellis, Joe Manzi, and Bill Spawr, as well as the Thoroughbred Corp., breaking Point Given. He currently works for trainer Rafael Becerra with Derby trail contender St. Averil. Seranno's younger brother is Eddie Garcia, a leading Los Alamitos Racetrack quarter horse jockey.
"I am a young girl who wants to get educated," says Imelda, who is presently attending Citrus College. She wishes to major in health care, is leaning towards earning her B.A. in Nursing, but is still researching her options. Imelda volunteers her spare time at the Los Angeles Arboretum at the membership office, gift shop, and in planting plans, as well as volunteers at the Play Factory Preschool as a teacher's aid. She is now also working part-time as a dental office receptionist.
Carmen is the second daughter of the nine children of exercise rider Cesar Serrano and wife Carmen. He is from Jalisco, Mexico, and came to California in 1975 to find a better paying job to support his family. Cesar worked with horses in Mexico, which eventually lead him to Santa Anita Racetrack. The trainers that Cesar has worked for are Ray Priddy, Larry Stirling, Steve Miyadi, Ron Ellis, Bruce Headley, and, presently, Rafael Becerra. Notable horses he has worked with are Cameamea and To B. Or Not.
Shantel is a Freshman at Cal-Poly Pomona, who is working towards a career in civil or geotechnical engineering. A very accomplished athlete, she has played on the JV/Varsity girls soccer team all four high school years and received an Athletic/Academic Award for Sierra League in Soccer. Her interest in soccer began at the early age of 5, and at age 11, was a member of the Wild Things soccer team, which won a divisional California State Championship title. She was also on her high school swim team and has worked as a Lifeguard at local Raging Waters water park. Throughout high school, Shantel also attended college preparation classes.
Shantel says, "I feel one of the main things I've learned from participating in sports is that it takes tremendous dedication to be on a club team. I missed many social events to attend my weekly games. This discipline taught me that one must give 100% dedication as part of a team. I feel this discipline at an early age has enabled me to develop work and study habits will help me in college."
Chilean born Juan Villarroel, Shantel's father, began galloping horses in his native country at age 21, where horses were always ridden bareback. He lived in a port city, working for an industrial company assembling automobiles. Work hours were 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., giving Villarroel ample time to get to the nearby racetrack to learn and work with the horses. The track in Chile was only open weekends, not enough time to satiate Villarroel's talents, and, in 1968, he traveled to New York to pursue a career in racing. Trainer P.G. Johnson was Villarroel's first employer, he then met trainer Wayne Stucki at Belmont, who brought him to California in 1969 to stay.
Juan has since worked for trainers Ron McAnally, Dan Hendricks, and Mel Stute and for the Thoroughbred Corp., exercising stakes winning fillies such as Johann Quatz, Listening, River Gold, and Buffythecenterfold.
Our scholarship recipients would like our readers to know that they truly appreciate being selected to receive Edwin J. Gregson Foundation grants. They express their thanks for the assistance given to achieve higher education and the added opportunity to enhance their lives.
The Edwin J. Gregson Foundation has received twenty new applications for grant consideration in 2004, as well as will reconsider continued funding for prior year grant recipients. The Scholarship Committee will soon review these applications with distributions to follow shortly.
The Board of Directors of the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation and the California Thoroughbred Trainers applaud the efforts and accomplishments of all grant recipients. On behalf of these boards and many contributors to the scholarship fund, we proudly extend our best wishes and hopes that the recipients persevere and reach their intended goals.