Espinoza gets the mount on 'Valentine'
By Bob Ehalt
Daily Racing Form
BALTIMORE - Victor Espinoza, who lost the mount on Congaree in Saturday's Preakness, will be riding in the second leg of the Triple Crown after all. Trainer Nick Zito announced Tuesday afternoon that Espinoza will ride A P Valentine in the $1 million Preakness. The California-based Espinoza finished third aboard Congaree in the Kentucky Derby, but was lifted in favor of Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey, a four-time Eclipse Award winner.
"We discussed a number of riders," Zito said. "There are several reasons we chose Victor. I want to hitch up to his wagon. He's hungry. He rode Congaree perfectly in the Derby.
"He wants to ride this horse," Zito added. "I think [A P Valentine] still has a future even if a few jockey agents don't think so."
A P Valentine finished a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby under Corey Nakatani, who was promptly dumped by Zito. Next came a game of musical riders.
Zito originally named Pat Day to ride the Rick Pitino/Michael Tabor-owned A P Valentine in the Preakness, but that was before trainer Dallas Stewart announced Dollar Bill would be running in the Preakness. Day rode Dollar Bill in the Derby and elected to stick with him in Leg No. 2 of the Triple Crown.
The 28-year-old Espinoza enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2000, winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff aboard Spain and racking up $13,286,705 in earnings. He was also the leading rider last year at Del Mar and Hollywood Park's spring-summer meet.