08/10/2011 4:30PM

Espinoza aiding backstretch cause

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Benoit & Associates
Victor Espinoza

DEL MAR, Calif. - Jockey Victor Espinoza is donating his share of purse earnings this week to the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, an organization that provides assistance to backstretch workers.

Espinoza, who through Sunday was tied for seventh in the jockey standings with eight wins at the meeting, had four mounts on Wednesday and Thursday and five on Friday, including Strawberry Tart in the $85,000 Daisycutter Handicap.

“I hope I get a lot of wins,” Espinoza said last weekend. “I want to do something to try to help. The grooms take care of the horses. They are there all the time, 24-7.”

Espinoza, 39, said he considers himself lucky to be riding this month after being shaken up in a spill on July 24. “I’ve been pretty lucky,” he said. “To donate one week, it won’t affect my life, but it will help a lot of people.”

The horsemen’s foundation assists backstretch workers with medical and dental services for employees and their families.