LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen January  19, 2018

JOCKEY EVERARDO RODRIGUEZ

Racing fans may not have been familiar with rider Everardo Rodriguez one year ago, but the talented jockey just completed a highly successful 2017. The 28-year-old was born in San Luis Potosí, a city in central Mexico and began riding professionally in 2013.

He has found his home in Louisiana and will be one to watch in 2018 and many years to come.

Early Career
Rodriguez began his career by galloping horses in south Texas. Willie Hickman, who at the time was the agent for jockey Alfonso Lujan, assisted him when he got his jock’s license in Louisiana. Rodriguez rode professionally beginning in 2013, winning just one race, but those numbers have risen rapidly in the past five years. He won 14 races in 2014; 20 the following year and 28 in 2016. However, his breakthrough came in 2017 when he won 89 races and topped the million dollar mark in purses for the first time in his career.

He remembers no details about his first victory, but describes entering the winner’s circle for the first time as a "dream come true."

Rodriguez credits Lujan for his guidance and admires him as a family man.

"I have always respected Alfonso," he said. "He helped me when I first began riding and I still go to him for advice. Anytime I have asked, he has always been there for me."

Lujan recalls meeting Rodriguez at Delta Downs before he got his license.

"I knew Everardo had experience galloping," said Lujan. "He asked me for advice on race riding. It was clear he was eager to learn and worked very hard."

The veteran jockey stressed learning from experience and advised Rodriguez to stay humble.

"I pride myself in staying grounded," added Lujan. "He told me that he liked the fact that I never got overexcited about the wins or discouraged about losing races. Everardo also understands the importance of family. As a jockey, you never know what might happen in your career; having family behind you is key."

Horsemen also got on board and Rodriguez is grateful to Erasmo Hernandez, Carlos Saldivar, Javier Contreras, Guadalupe Garza, Justin Dehart and Lanny Keith, who have all named him on mounts.

One horsemen who receives special credit is Martin Trejo. Trejo gave Rodriguez an opportunity earlier this year to ride Magic Black Jack, a 4-year-old son of Jet Black Patriot for owner Ana Lilia Alvidrez. Rodriguez guided the Louisiana-bred to two allowance victories at Delta Downs. On July 8, he united once again with Magic Black Jack in the $50,000 Flying Breed Stakes, setting a new track record in the 220-yard dash. After the required verification process, his breeder, Willie Salard received notification from the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) that the speedy gelding had not just set a new Delta Downs track record; his time of :11.466 seconds (118 speed index), was indeed a new World Record.

"He’s a very good rider and works hard in the mornings," said Trejo. "He rode Magic Black Jack to three straight wins, including the world record race. Everardo and Magic Black Jack make a pretty nice combination!"

Rodriguez is effusive in his praise for Magic Black Jack, citing his speed, power and heart, but had one other interesting comment about the multiple stakes winner.

"I see a little bit of myself in that horse," Rodriguez said with a smile!

The highlights were plentiful in 2017 with the national honors for Magic Black Jack and winning his first leading rider title in December at Evangeline Downs. His meteoric rise comes as no surprise to his agent, Gerald Thomas.

"Working for Everardo is a pleasure," stated Thomas. "No one says a single bad word about him; he reminds me of a young Gilbert Ortiz, who will help anyone in need."

Family First
Rodriguez was leading the jockey standings at Louisiana Downs last year until his younger brother, Jose was seriously injured. Jose was riding in the fifth trial for the Mardi Gras Futurity on February 25 when his mount, MDA Gold Chick went down.

Thomas recalls the distressing events of that afternoon.

"Everardo had ten more trials to ride, but there was no question that supporting his brother was the priority," said Thomas. "Jose was in a coma and remained hospitalized for two weeks. Everardo never left his side."

The strength of their bond was in full force in the months to come. Jose was unable to ride for most of the year, but thankfully, made a full recovery and returned to action for the conclusion of the Evangeline Downs Quarter Horse meet. He won the eighth race on the final day of the season, scoring at 22-1 on Diamonds Royal Miss. Later that afternoon, Everardo was honored with his first leading rider title. Suffice it to say that was a pretty memorable day for both siblings!

The Louisiana Downs meet gets underway on January 6. Rodriguez knows he will have plenty of competition from fellow riders Damian Martinez, David Alvarez, Donald Watson, Noe Castaneda, Eddie Sanchez as well as his mentor, Lujan.

As he heads into 2018, Rodriguez reflects on his good fortune and an enjoyable Christmas break in Dallas with his wife, Blanca and other family members. He is not in a hurry to win a Grade 1 or to have a mount in the prestigious All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs. Rather, he remains grateful for his good fortune and outstanding 2017.

"I will go as far as God takes me," stated Rodriguez. "Right now, I feel that the sky is the limit!"

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The LQHBA Insider is a monthly feature written by Martha Claussen for www.lqhba.com. She served as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park for ten years. She continues to be active in writing, fan education and Quarter Horse racing publicity in Texas, Louisiana and other regions in North America.