Tampa Bay Downs is proud to introduce its blog for the 2012-13 season, “Racing in the Sunshine.” By giving visitors an up-close and personal look at the majestic world of Thoroughbred racing, the sport’s participants – racing officials, horsemen, backstretch workers, trainers, jockeys and track employees – hope to entertain and inform fans everywhere.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
C.C. Lopez, Jockey
Tampa Bay Downs insider’s opinions, observations and reflections
Charles “C.C.” Lopez was born to be a jockey. His
father Carlos Lopez, Sr., who lives in Hollywood, Fla., rode for more than 40
years in the United States and Puerto Rico. Three brothers were jockeys; the
best-known, Carlos, Jr., remains active in Maryland. And C.C.’s sons David and
Erick are former jockeys who currently gallop horses. A mid-Atlantic fixture, Lopez
rode his first winner in 1979, capturing the Meadowlands riding title the same
year as a teenager. He has ridden more than 4,000 winners and his mounts have
earned more than $86-million. Among his best-known horses are multiple-graded
stakes winner Gottcha Gold, who was second under Lopez in the 2007 Breeders’
Cup Dirt Mile; Valid Video; Gators N Bears; and Key Lory.
HORSE EVER RIDDEN: Gottcha Gold. Besides finishing second
to Corinthian in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, we won three Grade III races: the
Salvator Mile and Philip H. Iselin Breeders’ Cup at Monmouth and the Skip Away
I GOT STARTED IN RACING: My dad was a jockey, so I always
thought I would ride. The only other thing I wanted to do was be an astronaut.
BIGGEST INSPIRATION: My father has always been my idol. He
accomplished great things in his career, and I always admired what he could do
on a race horse. After he won the biggest race in Puerto Rico, he became a star
CHANGE I WOULD MAKE TO RACING: Do more to promote it
at both the national and local level.
FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM/ATHLETE: Thoroughbred racing
and my father.
1 ON MY BUCKET LIST: Race in a NASCAR event. I’ve done a
lot of quarter-mile racing at Englishtown Raceway Park in New Jersey, and I
have a Pontiac Trans Am 12-second drag racer. I also own a 1985 Cadillac
Eldorado and I’ve restored a 1962 Fleetwood.
TV SHOW: Star Trek.
Growing up, Captain Kirk was my hero.
THING ABOUT TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The turf course. There is nothing
wrong with the dirt course, but the turf is a real nice surface to ride on.
TO SOMEONE STARTING IN RACING: Be the best you can