Lopez Pulling Double Duty

Miami- Paco Lopez captured his first Meadowlands jockey title on saturday night. He celebrated that milestone the following afternoon by engaging in one of his favorite past-times: Riding in a Quarter Horse race. Lopez not only rode a Quarter Horse race on Sunday, he won the opening event that day at Hialeah Park aboard a first-time starter named High Bar Jesse. “Paco says he enjoys riding Quarter Horse races even more than Thoroughbred races,” said Lopez’s agent, Cory Moran. “Here he goes and wraps up the Meadowlands riding title in a blizzard in New Jersey late Saturday evening, and the next afternoon he’s in South Florida riding Quarter Horses.” Lopez is no stranger to Quarter Horses. In fact the 24-year-old journeymen has been riding Quarter Horse races for half his life, having begun in his native Mexico at the age of 12.

He said that he had won several thousand Quarter Horse races before finally switching over to the Thoroughbreds on a regular basis when he came to Calder during the spring of 2007. Lopez’s career really took off the following year. As an apprentice, Lopez ran away with the 2008 Calder riding title by winning 161 races, 40 more than runner-up Manual Cruz. He was eventually named the Eclipse Award winner as the outstanding apprentice jockey of 2008. Lopez, who was back at Calder on Monday, moved his tack to New Jersey for the first time on a regular basis this year and finished seventh in the standings during the long Monmouth Park meet before breaking out to dominate the recently concluded Meadowlands session. “Although Paco would love to keep going over to Hialeah and riding Quarter Horses, we’ve got to start concentrating on our major goal at the moment, which is to have a big Gulfstream meeting,” Moran said. “He may go over to Hialeah or up to Tampa to ride an occasional stakes race this month and hoping to build on all the success he had at the Meadowlands heading into the winter at Gulfstream.” The 2010 Gulfstream meet begins on Jan.3.—

-by Mike Welsch -Daily Racing Form