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
“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
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.”