Apprentice jockey Eswan Flores won his first Thoroughbred race July 4 against a deep field of riders at Hollywood Park.
Flores, who already has 21 Quarter Horse victories at Los Alamitos to his credit, won by a length on the 16-1 longshot Kelly Leak in a $32,000 six-furlong claimer on the turf. The field of seven other challengers were guided by top riders Patrick Valenzeula, Victor Espinoza, Joseph Talamo, Rafael Bejarano, Martin Garcia, Chantal Sutherland, and Alonso Quinonez.
Kelly Leak is a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Runaway Groom out of Hasty Appeal, by World Appeal. He is trained by Mike Machowsky and owned by a partnership including Blahut Racing, Dennis Avila, Dave Johnson and others. The race was Kelly Leak's 10th start on the grass and the first trip ever over the lawn for Flores.
“The trainer told me to do whatever I want,” said Flores, a native of Mexico who visited his first racetrack at 8. “I hit him a couple of times after the wire because I didn’t know where the wire was. I was just so excited.”
The victory was Kelly Leak’s fifth win in 22 lifetime starts, and his second win of the year. Flores rallied between horses in the stretch, winning in 1:09.39 as the longest-price choice in the field. In the crowd was his mother, cousins, and several of his friends.
“All of the people that have been helping me along,” said Flores, a student at Fernando Ledesma High School in El Monte, Calif.
After his win, Flores received a shaving cream facial and was doused by water and assorted other items by his fellow riders.