March 3, 2012
Just like in the early part of the 2011 season, Cruz Mendez is lighting it up during the early going of the 2012 meeting at Los Alamitos. Mendez had consecutive weekends with major victories, as he took the Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1) with El Aguila Real on February 19 and then the Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes with Kool Million on February 26.
In addition to those two major victories, Mendez has ridden 13 other winners during the month of February. Mendez’s 15 winners in 40 starts since February 1, and that is easily the most by a jockey here during that span. His winning ratio of nearly 38% is 10 percentage points higher than the second-leading rider in that category since February 1. Mendez takes is all in stride after being the co-winner of the Val Tonks Award for top up-and-coming young rider.
“That was a great honor and a nice surprise,” Mendez said of the award. “When I started riding I did not imagine that I would get to this fortunate point in my career. It was something that I dreamt about, but I didn’t think it was possible.”
All-time leading Los Alamitos pilot Eddie Garcia has won two of 10 starts since February 1, but his mounts have finished in the top three an impressive 80% of the time. Cody Jensen, who guided Kobe to victory in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1), has also posted nice stats, winning four of his last 17 rides for a percentage of 23.5%, while veteran Joy Scott has been riding more at Los Alamitos in recent weeks and has performed nicely with three wins from her last six mounts.
In the training ranks, Jose Flores’ Quarter Horse barn has won with seven of his last 29 starters, while Jose Moreno, Jim Hanson and Felipe Quintero have all enjoyed winning with more than 30% of their starters since February 1. Valentin Zamudio has also become a regular in the winner’s circle with six victories and a recent win ratio of nearly 27%.
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