Spanish Jockey Finds His Way To Canterbury

By Katie Merritt

Jockey David Delgado, a native of Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain, a city in the south of the peninsula well-known for its annual summer meet held on the beach, is riding his first meet at Canterbury Park this year. After spending the winter riding in Tampa, where he won several races, he decided that Minnesota would be a good place to call home this summer. “I decided to come here, first, because Lynn Rarick offered for me to come here. I saw the track, and thought this is a track that’s getting better all the time, and the purses are good. I figured why not give it a try,” explained Delgado.

David comes from a family that has long been involved in racing. Growing up, his parents had racehorses in Spain and his oldest brother, Tom Delgado, was a jockey. “I started riding horses when I was nine years old, and then I started galloping thoroughbreds when I was 12,” he said. By the time he was 14, Delgado was riding in amateur races. “When I first started, I was 14 and I was still in school and I never thought I was going to be a jockey. But after I finished high school, when I was 18, I was doing good and I was winning races, and I realized I could make a living doing something I really liked doing!” he said with a smile.

Through hard work and determination, Delgado managed to make his way to the top of the ranks in the Spanish jockey colony. One of the highlights in his career there was a horse named Tiffany. “He was a really special horse,” Delgado recalled. “He still holds the record in Spain for most wins by a thoroughbred foaled in Spain. He won 21 races. I rode him for 14 of those wins. To have that many wins on the same horse, that almost never happens!” David also rode in other countries around Europe, like Sweden and Norway, where he had a good deal of success. While there, he rode first call for top trainer Tommy Gustafsson, which gave him the opportunity to ride champion Scandinavian filly Novasky to victory in several stakes.

David’s decision to ride at Canterbury came too late to secure a jockey’s agent this season, but he is still holding his own in the Minnesota jockey colony. To date, he has ridden 26 horses, and is yet to sit on the back of a favorite, but has still managed three wins, two seconds and five thirds, winning on 12% of his mounts and finishing in the money on 38%. “It’s ok,” Delgado said with a shrug, “I’m used to going places where people don’t know me. It’s more difficult when you don’t have an agent, because you don’t get as many chances to show people that you know how to ride and you know how to win. But it’s all about hard work. I just keep working hard.”

Delgado is no stranger to hard work. You can find him at the track every morning, all morning long, getting on horses. After morning training, he goes for a run or to the gym. “Before I ride, I just try to make sure I feel really good, and that my weight is good. I study the form a lot before I go to the paddock because I want to know everything I can about the other jockeys and the other horses in the race.” David also likes to be familiar with his own horse, because as any rider can attest, every horse is different. “When you are close to a horse, you learn how that horse is. You learn what they like and what they don’t like,” he explained, adding, “Horses will always tell you who they are. You just have to listen.”

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