05/31/2013 6:56PM

Hollywood Park: Espinoza gets 3,000th victory

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Benoit & Associates
Victor Espinoza won the 3,000th race of his career on Friday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Victor Espinoza’s 3,000th career win came so easily he had time to soak in the milestone during the race.

The $8,000 claimer Flashy Delight swept past the eighth pole under Espinoza in Friday’s fourth race at Betfair Hollywoood Park with a 2 1/2-length lead, and the trailing pack of eight runners was not gaining. Flashy Delight won the seven-furlong race by eight lengths, making Espinoza the second jockey to reach the 3,000-win mark at Hollywood Park this spring. Rafael Bejarano won the 3,000th race of his career on May 11.

“It was a good feeling,” Espinoza said. “I was able to enjoy it.”

Espinoza, 41, is best known for winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes on War Emblem in 2002. He has won 11 riding titles in Southern California, the most recent of which was a tie for first for first at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting in 2006-07.

When the racing week began at Hollywood Park on Thursday, Espinoza was one win shy of the milestone. He won his 3,000th race with his third mount of the week and said he was ready for the winner to arrive.

“I didn’t want to wait another day,” Espinoza said. “Some days, you think you can win, but the horses don’t run that well.”

Even though he no longer challenges for the riding title, Espinoza said last week that he greatly enjoys race riding 21 years after his first win, which came in Mexico City. Friday, he said he does not take the magnitude of winning his 3,000th race for granted.

“I never thought I’d get 3,000,” he said. “But now that I have 3,000, I’ll go for 4,000. I’ll get there, step by step. For me, that’s a lot of wins.”