If you are not familiar with jockey Elvin Gonzalez, just hang around the winner’s circle and you will be sure to find him. New to Canterbury this season, Elvin has ridden four of the first six days. He skipped opening weekend here to remain in New Mexico, honoring a commitment, so he could win a $150,000 futurity at Sunland Park.
In Shakopee, the young jockey has four wins from nine starts, with three additional in-the-money- finishes.
“He is a very good rider,” legendary jockey agent Richard Grunder said. “An agent friend put me on to him. I found he rode first call for top trainer Bart Hone so I knew he could ride. I made some phone calls and checked with other riders like Scott Stevens. Elvin is a quiet kid, a good kid, and works hard.”
Gonzalez, from Darien, Panama, began riding in his native land in 2009. He has also ridden in Mexico City and Puerto Rico where he won a Grade 1 stakes at Camarero. He raced throughout the southwest in recent years. In 2014 Gonzalez was ranked 38th in the nation by wins.
While he says he “got lucky” thus far, watching Gonzalez on the track belies that modesty. He has ability. He decided to take the leap to Minnesota because he too did his research on Grunder. “I have a good agent with good connections,” he said. “I think we will win.”
It did not take long as Gonzalez won with his first mount at Canterbury on May 11, Girls a Bullet for trainer Mike Biehler, returning $13 on a $2 win wager. He was back in the winner’s circle later that day for trainer Tim Padilla. This time on Why God who paid $7.80. His third winner paid $14.80. Last Saturday, again riding for Padilla, Gonzalez brought in Purple Monster at 9 to 1 odds. The Minnesota-bred first time starter looked beaten at the top of the stretch but Gonzalez persisted and got up him at the wire.
Gonzalez acknowledges he will need to continue to work hard to get mounts in a very deep jockey colony. “There are so many good riders here,” he said. “But I am happy to be here.” Early on, he has already proven he belongs.