Ismael "Milo" Valenzuela after winning the 1958 Kentucky Derby with Tim Tam.

Ismael "Milo" Valenzuela after winning the 1958 Kentucky Derby with Tim Tam.

Blood-Horse Library

Hall of Fame Rider Milo Valenzuela Dies at 74

Former rider of Kelso and Native Diver succumbs after a long illness.

(from National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame release)

Hall of Fame jockey Ismael “Milo” Valenzuela died early on the morning of Sept. 2 at his home in Arcadia, Calif., after a long illness. He was 74.

Diana Valenzuela said her father, who had been hospitalized recently, was surrounded by his children, grandchildren and other family members when he died.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

Valenzuela was born in McNary, Texas on Dec. 24, 1934. He rode from 1951 through 1980, winning 2,545 races and earning purse money of $20,122,760. He was the regular rider of Kelso, with whom he won 22 of 35 races, including 19 stakes. Valenzuela won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1958 and 1968.

In 2008, Valenzuela was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Historic Review Committee. When Valenzuela was unable to travel to Saratoga Springs for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame President Stella F. Thayer approved a proposal to induct Valenzuela at Santa Anita Park, just a few miles from his home. It was the first time since the National Museum of Racing trustees formed the Hall of Fame in 1955, that an induction had taken place outside Saratoga Springs.

Santa Anita president Ron Charles and Sherwood Chillingworth, executive vice president of the Oak Tree Racing Association, supported the plan to stage an event at the track’s Turf Club to honor Valenzuela. National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame trustee Beverly Lewis presented Valenzuela with his jacket and plaque.

Valenzuela, the third of 22 children, was competing in match races before he was 10 years old and gained experience riding Quarter Horses before moving to Thoroughbreds. He won his first race on April 8, 1951, at Rillito Park in Tucson.

During a career that included parts of four decades, he won more than 130 major races, including the Arlington Classic, the Arlington-Washington Futurity, the Blue Grass Stakes, the Brooklyn Handicap, the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Garden State Stakes, the San Juan Capistrano and the San Antonio. In addition to Kelso and Tim Tam, he also rode to victory Hall of Fame members Affectionately, Cicada, Native Diver, Round Table and Searching.