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Erick Lopez Makes Fresh Start in California

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that Erick Lopez could ride before he could walk.

Fact is, the son of jockey C.C. Lopez and grandson of retired rider Chuck Lopez was on his first horse at the age of eight and was galloping at race tracks when he was 15.

Now 25, Lopez hopes to make a fresh start in California, starting Friday at Santa Anita when he rides Mr. Why Why for trainer Mike Pender in the second race. A native of Marlboro, N.J., in the heart of The Garden State’s horse country, hard by Freehold Raceway and Monmouth Park in Oceanport, Lopez rode his first race at The Meadowlands in 2007.

In addition to family tutorship, Erick rubbed elbows with some of racing’s elite when he was a boy, so his segue to the saddle was a natural.

“I’ve known Angel Cordero and Jorge Velazquez since I was a kid,” said Lopez, bright, breezy and forthright in his demeanor. “In fact, both were my agents back East. (Cordero’s main man is Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez).”

Lopez is represented by agent Jerry (The Fisherman) Palermo, a Runyonesque race track character who gained his nickname from working on fishing boats. “But I’ve been an agent for 33 years,” he quickly adds.

“I met Erick right here in Santa Anita’s parking lot. I showed him some of my paintings (another Palermo avocation), we hit it off, and here we are.”



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