By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: David Lopez has been riding horses professionally for the past two decades. “If there is one thing I have learned,” the 35-year-old native of Peru says, “when things are going well, you simply work harder. It’s an up-and-down business. You can’t fall asleep.”
Lopez accepted an offer from horse owner Glen Todd in 2015 to pick up stakes in southern California and join the Todd stable as its jockey of choice at Hastings Racecourse.
“I’m under contract to Mr. Todd and while he allows me to ride for other owners, he’s my first call,” Lopez says. “Whenever he needs me, I’m there.”
Born into a racing family – his father was a jockey in South America – David has been the leading rider at Hastings since the gates opened to launch the 2017 on April 23. After 89 starts heading into this weekend, he hit the winner’s circle 23 times with 16 second-place finishes and 10 thirds.
Two of those victories have been in stakes company aboard Dear Lilly: the Brighouse Belles on opening day and the Vancouver Sun on May 13.
Lopez and Richard Hamel have been staging a lively rivalry throughout the season for the top rung of the Leading Jockey standings. Hamel has 20 wins thus far in defence of his 2016 title, the fourth time in his career he’s been crowned Hastings’ top rider.
“There is plenty of talent in that jocks room,” Lopez says. “Things can get very competitive and it makes for exciting times.”
Lopez maintains a home in California with his wife and two young daughters and gets to visit them whenever he can fit it into his sometimes hectic Vancouver schedule.
“I live about 15 minutes from Golden Gate,” he says. “Last year I got to ride there 11 times in December and had four wins. But my main focus is on Hastings. I pretty much spend all of my time at the track. People treat me well and I’m very comfortable. I have no complaints.”
Well, there is one.
“I tried taking up golf in this beautiful city,” he says. “I think I am the worst. I’ll stick to riding.”