Texas Jockey Francisco Calderon Making His Mark

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May 3rd, 2016

Quarter horse jockey Francisco Calderon is having a career-best meet at Sam Houston Race Park.

Last year, he finished third in the standings, with 25 wins, including the Paint Futurity and Maturity stakes. He is just two wins behind Rodrigo Vallejo this meet and won the richest race of the Sam Houston Quarter Horse meet, guiding Just Call Me Carter to a decisive score in the $540,000 Sam Houston Futurity. It was the biggest race of his career, with $216,000 paid to the winning owner, and a healthy paycheck to both trainer Angel Sanchez and Calderon.

"I was so happy," said the young rider. "I still can't believe it, but am so grateful for the opportunity."

Texas jockey Francisco Calderon on a Roll

Calderon had to learn from the ground up and credits jockey Ignacio Bustamante for teaching him the ropes. The 22-year-old was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and began riding in 2012.

"I did everything I was asked to do in the barn," said Calderon. "Ignacio told me 'you have to know a horse before you get on a horse'. So I groomed, fed, mucked stalls; it was all important."

Riding first call for trainer Leon Bard has also been a huge boost to his stats.

"Leon asked me to ride first call for his barn," added Calderon. "It was an opportunity that I could not pass up. He's a good horsemen and a great person. I don't feel any pressure riding for Leon; he has confidence in me and that means a great deal."

"On Monday morning, I was the first rider on the track working horses," explained Calderon.  "People were asking why I was out there after winning the big futurity. I want to keep working hard and win even more big races!"

The Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse meet wraps up on Monday, May 16. The richest race has been run, but Calderon has key mounts in both the John Deere Texas Juvenile and the Adequan Texas Derby Challenge, which will be run on May 14.  He is hopeful that he will catch current leading rider Rodrigo Vallejo and clinch his first riding title.  He is currently the 12th leading Quarter Horse rider in the national AQHA standings.