LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen September  15, 2019

NOT TWO, BUT THREE RODRIGUEZ BROTHERS!

Family ties are strong in the racing world and it's not uncommon to see father-son connections, cousins and brothers competing on the same circuit.

Right now in Louisiana, we have the pleasure of seeing not two, but three brothers ride at the same track. Everardo, Jose and Leonardo Rodriguez are holding court at Fair Grounds and garnering plenty of attention for their skill in the saddle and great personalities as well!

The oldest of the trio is Everardo, who is 29; Jose is 27 and their younger brother, Leo, 18, is in his first year as a Quarter Horse jockey.

Everardo has risen to the top of the Louisiana Quarter Horse circuit in a very short time. From his professional debut in 2013, Rodriguez has won titles at Louisiana Downs, Evangeline Downs, Delta Downs and is the current leading rider at Fair Grounds. He was honored as 2018 LQHBA Champion Jockey (in a tie with Luis Vivanco).

Jose is 27 and began riding in 2015 and has improved his ranking each year. He has shown his prowess in 870-yard races.

Leonardo who goes by "Leo" is just 18 and made his debut earlier this year at Indiana Grand. He joined his brothers at Fair Grounds and won his first race in Louisiana on August 31.

Each of the brothers have a nickname. Everardo is "locito", which means a little crazy; Leo is dubbed "seco" or dry and the most interesting goes to Jose who goes by "la máscara" or "mask". He got that nickname when he was the horseback riding stunt double for the filming of Zorro in Mexico!

The brothers grew up in San Luis Potosí, a city in central Mexico and remain very close with their family. They talk, almost on a daily basis, with their parents and grandfather, who had them on horseback as toddlers.

Their faith in God and each other has gotten them through many challenges. Jose was involved in a frightening spill in February, 2017, when his mount in a trial for the Mardi Gras Futurity went down.

Everardo was in the hunt for his first leading rider title, but did not hesitate in accompanying his brother to the hospital. Jose was in a coma for two weeks; Everardo never left his side.

"Family comes first," stated Everardo. "Before any fame or riding title, all that was important was my brother. The Lord knew I was not leaving work for my own reasons; there would be more races to ride in the future."

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 night of the season, scoring on 22-1 shot, Diamonds Royal Miss. Later that evening, Everardo was honored with his first leading rider title.

While Jose does not rival Everardo in wins, he has earned the respect of many horsemen in the distance races.

"Most riders know how to get their horses out of the gate and go fast," said Jose. "In the distance races, it's important to save ground and have something left for the finish."

Trainer Lanny Keith has forged a solid association with Everardo and has gotten to know each of the brothers.

"They are all good kids; polite and have a very close knit bond," said Keith. "Everardo looks out for Jose and Leo and they all have a solid work ethic."

Horseman Orlando Orozco agrees with that assessment.

"Jose rides first call for me," explained Orozco. "I have given Leo a few mounts and he did a great job. They are all fine riders, but maybe even more important, they are very humble."

Everardo and Jose are married men; Everardo's wife, Blanca and Jose's wife, Claudia, are lovely ladies and proud supporters of their husbands.

The Fair Grounds meet will wrap on September 7 and all three Rodriguez brothers will ride at Evangeline Downs. Each expressed excitement at the prospect of doing well throughout the 46-day meet in Opelousas and the thrill of possibly each having mounts in the rich LQHBA Louisiana Million in December.

Everardo is pleased to receive recognition for his accomplishments and genuinely hopes that both Jose and Leo will join him as top riders on the Louisiana circuit.

As the youngest, Leo is learning very fast and knows that experience will be the key to getting more mounts.

"I never wanted to be a jockey until I saw the success of my brothers," said Leo. "One day, I want to be as good as Everardo."

Everardo quickly responded by telling his brother "I want you to be even better than me!"

As pretty much every trainer and their agent, Gerald Thomas will tell you, humility is the greatest virtue of each of the Rodriguez brothers. Concluding the interview for this feature, Everardo made the following request.

"Please make sure to let our owners, trainers, valets, grooms and gate crew know how much we appreciate them," he said. "As jockeys, we are just one part of the win. We could not be successful without the hard work of everyone around us."

Message delivered, Everardo and wishing all the best to you, Jose and Leo for the remainder of 2019 and many years to come!

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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.