Valdivia Wins Jockey Competition, Donates Proceeds to Jockey School, Charity

By Claire Novak
Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. may have finished first in the Tarde de Jinetes de Campeones (Afternoon of Champion Jockeys) at Lima's Hipodromo de Monterrico Jan. 31, but he didn't bring home the $5,000 prize when he flew back to Santa Anita Wednesday morning.

"It was a great event to raise money for the jockey school of Peru and the San Juan De Dios Children's Hospital," said 31-year-old Valdivia, who donated the money back to charity. "With a jockey challenge like that, we all just go out and really enjoy ourselves."

A native Peruvian whose father, Jose Valdivia Sr., was a leading South American jockey during the 1960s and '70s, Valdivia learned to ride in the United States – but his father was an instructor at the jockey school of Peru for a short time.

"They really give the kids a good foundation there," Valdivia said. "They teach more than just riding, they give them a good education and – most importantly – they give them hope."

Valdivia earned 4 points with Encumbrado's third-place finish in the Championship's first race, then scored 10 points when he booted home Lord Sidney in a dramatic come-from-behind finish in the event's fourth and final race. 20-year-old Panamanian Eddie Castro came in second with 12 points, while Cornelio Velasquez (10), Victor Fernandez (10), and Rafael Bejarano (8) rounded out the top five riders. The jockeys were awarded points on a 10-6-4-2 system for finishing first, second, third, or fourth.

"We had some great riders there, and it was a fun competition," Valdivia said. "I'd never ridden on the track before, and I really liked the surface when I got out there. Those of us who hadn't ridden there before were talking about how great it was – both the main track and the turf course had a great cushion."

The championship featured 12 jockeys, including Peruvian-born and United States-based Edgar Prado, John Jacinto, David Lopez, and Manuel Aguilar. Puerto Rican Robby Alvarado also rode, along with current Peruvian-based riders Benjamin Padilla and Carlos Trujillo.

Between races, Juan Huirse (President of the Peruvian Turf Journalists Association) and track president Roberto Alvarez Calderón presented Edgar Prado with the Laurels of the Turf – one of Peruvian racing's highest honors – for his successful career as a jockey in the U.S. Prado was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd.