LARC NEWS Posted: 1/21/2022 6:07:37 PM



         The races for the various Los Alamitos jockey titles in 2021 were a thrill fest, with two of chases for the trophy buckle coming down to the final weekend of the year-long racing meet.                                                                                               

         Ruben Lozano and Oscar Peinado went head-to-head down the straightaway for the Quarter Horse title and in the end, it was Lozano securing his first buckle on the meet’s closing night.           

          And while Francisco Orduña Rojas cruised to the mixed-bred title, the top spot in the Thoroughbred ranks came down to breed’s final race of the meet. Edgar Payeras and Eduard Rojas entered the final program on December 19 tied at the top of the standings. Payeras grabbed the lead after piloting La Croix to victory in the opening race of the card. Both riders missed the winner’s circle in the second race, but in the third race, which was the final race of the meet for  Thoroughbreds,  Rojas Fernandez got a share of the title after riding Soul Prodigy to victory at 4-1 odds. The win gave Rojas Fernandez his first title here, while for Payeras this was the second of his career at Los Alamitos.  Payeras and Rojas Fernandez finished with 28 wins each.

           Rojas Fernandez (left) has remained red-hot at Los Alamitos in 2022. He’s currently the meet’s overall leading rider with nine wins from 26 mounts. His road to success in the United States from his native country Venezuela has not been easy, but his hard work and resilience has paid off.                                                                     

           “When I came to Southern California, I galloped horses at Santa Anita and then I came to Los Alamitos,” he said. “I enjoyed it so much because I met a lot of great people and knew this is where I wanted to ride. I adapted well, learned a lot and here I am.                               

       “I just want to thank a lot of people. The owners, the trainers, and Karen Norton, who helped me so much. I’m very thankful for so many people. I had hoped to catch Edgar Payeras. I had a couple of mounts on that (closing) night that gave me the opportunity to do so. First race on the night, it didn’t work out. I had one more opportunity to win with a horse trained by Sergio Morfin. The race played out just like we had hoped and this time it worked out. It was a great feeling.”                                                                                                                

       Rojas Fernandez began riding in Venezuela in 2004, early on in his career spending time at track called Santa Rita. Prior to making his way to California, he rode in Trinidad & Tobago and eventually in Canada.                                                                                                              

          “I always wanted to ride in the U.S. Riding in the United States is a dream for so many riders,” Rojas Fernandez added. “This is the big leagues, and it was a dream to eventually have the opportunity here.”                               

        Racing at Los Alamitos caught the eye of Rojas Fernandez years ago even while he was still in his native country. Quarter Horse races made quite a positive impression on the young rider.                                                                            

        “In Venezuela, I watched the races from Los Alamitos a lot,” he said. “They always caught my attention because of the speed of the horses. Venezuela doesn’t as many sprint races as they do at Los Alamitos, but I rode at a track near Brazil and there they carded more sprints. I rode Quarter Horses there and even won seven races. I liked the adrenaline of the short races. It was a big thrill. I haven’t had many chances here to ride Quarter Horses but I like them. The speed in which they go is hard to describe.”        


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