You hear it said often in the world of sports. Someone is "Living the Dream"
It's an expression used by many young jockeys when they achieve their life long goal of putting on the silks for the first time. But in the case of Jose Delgadillo, it couldn’t be more relevant.
The 17-year-old was born into the sport of horse racing. His father, is southern California based veteran rider Agapito Delgadillo. Ever since he can remember, the younger Delgadillo has wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Now back at Golden Gate Fields, where he literally grew up, Delgadillo is doing just that.
He has the same agent his father did (Rogelio Olguin) and the same valet (Augustine Meza). He even has his dads old locker in the jocks room. Now he would like to have the success his dad has had his entire career. Agapito rode at GGF for nearly 15 years and was always considered by many as a top flight rider. Over his 27 year career, the elder Delgadillo has chalked up over 1,300 wins.
“Everybody tells me ‘your dad's a great rider’,” Delgadillo said. “ To many people he is a great rider, a longshot rider. I hope I can have the success he had and be better than him.”
As you can imagine, racing was always present around the Delgadillo house.“ When my dad rode here, he would always record the replays of his races and I would watch them with him at night and ask why he did certain things. He’s real proud that I’m following in his footsteps”
Delgadillo once patrolled the grounds at GGF in a stroller, now he walks them every morning looking to build up a clientele he hopes will lead him to success.
“My goal is to win the eclipse award for apprentices and ride in all the big races at all the big tracks. Breeders' Cup, Dubai, yea that’s my goal,” he said.
After leaving the bay area when he was 6 (in 2001 when his dad moved his tack to southern California), the younger Delgadillo grew up down south and learned about racing from the best riders in the country. He credits such riders as Mike Smith and Martin Garcia for helping teach him things. After traveling to Texas for a short time to get galloping experience when he was 16, he felt it was time he get his career going
.So on November 21st, 2012, Delgadillo rode his first horse at Portland Meadows in Oregon.
“I wanted to come to GGF first but (trainer) Vann Belvoir wanted me to go to Portland Meadows first and get some experience,” he said. “I got some good experience, I got the feel of racing. It’s a lot different than just working a horse. You have to be aware of the horses around you and be safe for them and for you.”
He rode 19 horses at Portland with 3 seconds and a third place finish during the last month of the meet before returning home. When the chance came to return to GGF, he jumped at it.
“I always wanted to come back here so when Rogelio called me and asked if I wanted to come up, I said yes and I’m glad to be back.”
So now, the wait begins to see when the younger Delgadillo can crack through and get his first victory. He knows it will be tough to make his own reputation, especially at a track that runs a lot of small fields, but he feels he is up for the task.
“Roger is a great agent and he will do his part,” he said. “Now I have to do mine and ride hard and get some wins.”
Of course the ultimate thrill for both jockey and son would be a chance to square off in the same race, a feat that has been done just a few times before.
“Oh yea we have talked about it a bunch of times, I always tell him I’m going to beat him at the wire,” Jose said. “It would be cool to get a dead heat and have a big win picture but I don’t care if he is my dad I’m going to try and beat him. Hopefully it can happen some day.”