01/09/2013 3:51PM

Santa Anita: Newcomer Mojica beginning to make impact in California jockey colony

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Orlando Mojica, winning an allowance race on Cloudy Moon, is making some inroads since relocating last fall to Southern California.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The television images stayed in Orlando Mojica’s mind.

Mojica was in the Midwest last year, riding in Indiana and Kentucky, when he began closely following racing in Southern California.

“You see the mountains, the Breeders’ Cup, the good trainers, and the good horses,” he said. “I said, ‘I want to ride in California.’ ”

Mojica made his move last fall. After a few quiet months, he has had a successful start to the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting. Through Sunday, Mojica had 3 wins from 28 mounts, equaling his number of winners at the Betfair Hollywood Park fall meeting. The three wins at this meeting were enough to leave Mojica tied for 10th in the standings.

This week, he has an excellent chance to add to that. Mojica was booked on four horses on Thursday, and has five mounts on Friday’s eight-race card and five mounts on Saturday’s nine-race card. He is slowly getting attention.

“I’m the new guy in town,” he said between workouts on Wednesday morning. “We had to break the ice.”

A 30-year-old native of Puerto Rico, Mojica has won 1,786 races. He won riding titles at Hoosier Park, Indiana Downs, and Kentucky Downs and once had six wins on a day at Ellis Park in Kentucky. While he has won stakes at tracks such as Hawthorne, Hoosier Park, Indiana Downs, and Turfway Park in the last two years, Mojica has not won a graded stakes since the Grade 3 Bourbonette Stakes at Turfway Park in 2009.

“It’s hard to ride for Bob Baffert or John Sadler,” he said of two of Southern California’s leading trainers. “I’m not a big name. Hopefully, it will be different. A lot of guys don’t know me because I don’t win big races.”

The success he has had since the Dec. 26 opening day has left Mojica confident that he can find a role in Southern California.

“I want to stay here,” he said. “Hopefully, people will give me the right opportunities. I can get the horses where they can win and do the best I can.

“I thought about coming here four or five years ago, but I didn’t take the chance. It’s never too late.”

Emelyn Mojica More than 1 year ago
Want to congratulate my cousin Orlando-wishing you always the best-xoxo
Lucy Terranova More than 1 year ago
I want to say congrats to my cousin Orlando!! May all your dreams come true in California-Luv ya lots Bernie, Lucy Ivette & Taylor (all the way from CT)
John Hanley More than 1 year ago
Great rider -- Rode a few of our horses in KY! Always thought he tried as opposed to the test drive that some jocks give. Good luck! Also, totally agree with the comment below from Amy about writing articles on lesser known, trainers, jockeys, stables, etc. Tired of hearing the same old names all the time.
ivanyamil More than 1 year ago
From sunny Puerto Rico, we wish you the best Orlando. Hacia adelante!
Cathy Riccio More than 1 year ago
Promising rider with a lot of talent! Keep it going Orlando!
William Pettingill More than 1 year ago
And if you need a good haircut, he's the man to see.
Henry Bee More than 1 year ago
Hope you make it there Orlando.
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Good luck to Orlando, a solid addition to the SoCal jockey colony. Please keep these kind of stories (on the lesser-known jockeys and trainers) coming.
Todd Elliot More than 1 year ago
as long as he doesnt hang out with eswain flores
Guy More than 1 year ago
Very talented rider. Hope he gets all the mounts he can.
Keith Strouhal More than 1 year ago
der , 5 of 6 races , lol