Ismael Valenzuela Honored
Ismael Valenzuela is one of the legendary jockeys in the horse racing industry, as he has ridden many championship horses and retired after winning 2 545 racing events. During this successful thirty year career as a jockey, Valenzuela has been associated with famous racing events and celebrity horses and was recently honored for his achievements by being inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.
Born in Texas on 25 December 1934, Ismael “Milo” Valenzuela was born into a large family and had twenty-one siblings. After moving back to Mexico at a young age, he began working with quarter horses on his return to the United States at age fourteen, which helped him to support his mother and father back in Mexico. It did not take long before Valenzuela began to pursue a career as a jockey. By 1958, Ismael Valenzuela was making a name for himself as he embarked on the dream of Triple Crown glory aboard the horse Tim Tam. Together, they won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, but after suffering an injury during the Belmont Stakes, Tim Tam and Valenzuela had to settle for second place. Valenzuela also enjoyed a more than three year relationship with a horse by the name of Kelso. Known as one of the legendary horses of his time, Kelso won the Horse of the Year title consecutively from 1960 to 1964 and won twenty-two of his thirty-five career starts.
But the horses were not the only ones getting attention. Valenzuela’s talent and abilities had also been taken note of, earning him the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1963. He got a second chance at the Triple Crown with Forward Pass in 1968, but was again only able to win the first two legs, with another second place in the Belmont Stakes. At the beginning of the year, he was selected as an inductee into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, which many saw as a mere formality because of him being known as a racing great for many years.
At a special ceremony at Santa Anita Racetrack, held on 22 June 2008, Ismael Valenzuela received his plaque, his traditional Hall of Fame jacket, and his rightful place in horse racing history. Valenzuela is renowned for his patience, a passion for horse racing and being a perfect gentleman both on and off the racetrack. His name will always be synonymous with brilliant horse racing and magnificent horses, and future generations will be reminded of his accomplishments by this Hall of Fame recognition.