On a circuit as tough as Southern California’s, apprentice jockeys find it difficult to win many races, let alone a riding title. Apprentice Evin Roman in 2017 stood that axiom on its head, as he won five riding titles.
A graduate of the famous Escuela La Vocacional Hipica jockey school in Puerto Rico, Roman impressed veteran jockey agent Tony Matos, who has guided his career. Matos convinced the 19-year-old Roman to switch his plans from riding in Pennsylvania to California, with excellent results.
Roman became the first apprentice since Gordon Glisson in 1949 to win a Santa Anita Park riding title when he tied for first with Flavien Prat at the 2017 spring-summer meeting. Roman won all three Los Alamitos Race Course titles during the year and also collected the title at the fall Santa Anita meeting. At the two Del Mar meets he finished second to Prat.
Not only did trainers use Roman in overnight races, where he brought the five-pound apprentice weight advantage, but they named him on stakes runners as well. Vann Belvoir put Roman aboard Gold Rush Dancer, and they won the Longacres Mile Handicap (G3) at Emerald Downs.
Roman also captured the Southern Truce Stakes at Santa Anita on Street Surrender for Jerry Hollendorfer and the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Stakes at Del Mar on Show It N Moe It for Gary Sherlock.
In 2017 Roman won 166 races in 912 starts for earnings of $5,118,077, easily leading all other apprentice riders in the U.S. by both wins and earnings.