Rafael Bejarano

Rafael Bejarano

Anne M. Eberhardt

Bejarano Becomes United States Citizen

Champion jockey in Southern California sworn in at ceremony in Louisville April 27.

Some two months after passing his test, jockey Rafael Bejarano was sworn in as a United States citizen April 27.

A 15-time meet riding champion in Southern California, Bejarano, 29, was inducted in a ceremony in Louisville, Ky. The native of Arequipa, Peru flew back to California so he could honor his mounts in the evening at Betfair Hollywood Park.

A winner of more than 2,700 races and over $123 million in purses, Bejarano was extremely proud of his status.

“I’m really happy,’’ he said. “It was a big step for me. There were about 400 others who became citizens.

“My good friend Julio Espinoza was there and so was Dante Zanelli Jr., who brought me here to the United States. Dante lives in Kentucky now so he was happy to be there and enjoy everything with me.

“Julio has been my friend since I came to this country and we’re almost like family. I was so happy not going through this alone.’’