Anyone involved in horse racing knows nothing can be more thrilling than winning that first race.
It was even more exciting for trainer Edgar Mendoza Saturday when he experienced the thrill of victory saddling his very first horse – KK Gold – owned by Jodie Rawson, a former trainer herself.
Growing up in Mexico, Mendoza remembers being around horses as a nine-year-old on the family farm. “Even back then I was hoping to one day become a trainer,” he says. “I didn’t know my dream would become a reality as early as the age of 18.”
Through a program he had heard about from Hastings jockey Fernando Senties, now living in Mexico, and the late Bryant Mcafee, longtime executive with the HBPA-BC, Mendoza’s new journey was about to begin.
“Without their help I would never have gotten the opportunity,” he says. “Not long after arriving in Vancouver I met Chris and Tracy Loseth at Hastings who offered me a job working with them at Canmor Farms. I was working as a groom when Chris asked me if I’d be interested in exercising horses and he began teaching me that side of the business. For that, I will always be grateful.”
Edgar soon took his easy-going style and hard-working talent to Hastings and quickly found work with many of the top trainers. Among his many duties today, he is assistant trainer to Dino Condilenios and also his main exercise person.
“Because we have a very good team in his barn I’m able to look after my own horses,” Mendoza says. “It sure was exciting when Jodie gave me a chance to train for her with Dino giving me a hand. Then to top it all off I was able to give the mount to my best friend Antonio Reyes. He was my roommate for years ever since I arrived at Hastings. How does it get better than that?”
QUEEN RETURNS: 2018 Horse of the Year, BC Stables & Paul Caravetta’s Here’s Hannah goes for her sixth straight win in Saturday’s $50,000 Strawberry Morn. Here’s Hannah is 6-5 on the morning line and second choice is Good Luck to You at 3-1. Sunday’s $50,000 John Longden 6000 will include Gord Christoff’s Calgary Caper, 2018 Champion Older Horse as well as 2018 Champion BC-bred Driller, owned by Don Danard and trained by Mel Snow. Start times Saturday and Sunday are 1:50 p.m.
HOT STREAK: Phil Hall continues to lead the trainers standings with 14 wins; Enrique Gonzalez and Amadeo Perez remain deadlocked in the leading jockey standings with 18 each; North American Thoroughbred Horse Company has a slight edge on George Gilbert (6-5) in the owners’ category.
NOTES ON A PROGRAM: Five horses were claimed last Saturday and one was claimed on Sunday … Nice to see jockey Alex Marti win his first race of the season after suffering an injury during a training day just prior to the 2019 meet at Hastings opened … Regular horseplayers will certainly notice the name of Jim Daily, Jr. on Saturday’s program. The 60-year-old has been riding quarter horses south of the border for the past few years. Also an accomplished artist, Daily’s father Jim and brother Randy once rode at Hastings.