Victor Espinoza and Brian Beach, who reached pinnacles in racing others can only dream about, have parted company.
The Hall of Fame jockey and his agent of eight years went their separate ways Saturday morning after Espinoza informed Beach he is eager for more business which the 58-year-old agent, through no fault of his own, presently is limited in generating.
Through Saturday, Espinoza had only 37 mounts this meet, winning four races with five seconds and seven thirds, good for purse earnings of $365,844.
“It’s tough; it’s not easy,” said Espinoza, who turns 49 on May 23. “We had great success together and we were a good team. I missed a lot of time because of injuries and the pandemic, but now I’m healthy and want to win more races.”
Beach has been unable to beat the backstretch bushes on a regular basis to drum up business as most agents do since he primarily is focused on resolving health issues for his wife, Lotta, in Idaho, from where he has been commuting when possible.
Lotta has been coping with a multitude of lingering ailments stemming from a horse accident more than three years ago, in March of 2018.
“I understand Brian’s situation but I’m back and my goal right now is to win as many races as I can,” Espinoza said.
Before the split, Espinoza and Beach enjoyed a wild ride.
A member of the Hall of Fame since 2017, Espinoza burst onto the international scene with Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem in 2002 and again with two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome seven years ago. He then swept the Triple Crown on American Pharoah a year later, thus becoming a global celebrity appearing on “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Tonight Show,” with lucrative commercial offers his for the taking.
Among his honors are Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, three ESPY’s as best jockey and three Kentucky Derby victories.
Espinoza overcame a career-threatening neck injury during a workout spill at Del Mar on July 22, 2018 and miraculously resumed riding seven months later.
“Victor wants someone at the track every day and I’ve got family concerns that don’t allow me to be there every day,” explained Beach, an agent since 1990. “I moved to Idaho in January to benefit my wife’s health more than anything else.
“We already owned a place there (in a town called Worley, about an hour southeast of Coeur d’Alene), and I needed to provide an atmosphere that was more conducive to her recovery.
“I was traveling back and forth every week until the pandemic hit. That closed us down for a while and when we did open up, agents weren’t allowed on the grounds and we were doing (post position) draws via conference calls.
“It wasn’t planned that way but it was working out. Things began to loosen up over time, so now everybody’s kind of back to normal but I still haven’t been able to be there on a fulltime basis because I have family health concerns to worry about.
“Right now, Victor’s business is not in great shape and he wants to see if it will improve if he’s got an agent at the track in person every day.
“We’ve had a great eight years, and I think if he hadn’t had the accident in 2018, we’d still be going strong. But that was so serious, and when he did come back, Santa Anita was shut down for a while, there was a lot of rain and it all prevented us from regaining our business.
“We were just getting going again last summer towards the end of the Big Meet at Santa Anita when the pandemic hit, so it’s been kind of an unfortunate way to end it.
“But we’ve had tremendous success together. Winning the Triple Crown is as big as it gets in this game and something not many agents ever experience, plus two Kentucky Derby wins, a Dubai World Cup, a Breeders Cup Classic—the biggest races out there and we’ve won ’em all.
“It’s been a great run.”
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