American Pharoah has not only brought his team the massive prestige of horse racing’s first Triple Crown since 1978, he’s made everyone a bundle of cash. According to one tally (via NJ.com), the horse has hauled in $4.5 million over his short racing career, including almost $3 million for the three-race sweep.
Some of that total, of course, goes to Victor Espinoza, American Pharoah’s jockey, but he won’t be taking anything home for his triumph at Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. That’s because Espinoza is donating his winnings — $80,000, minus his agent’s take and payouts to assistants — to fight childhood cancer.
“At the wire I was like, ‘I cannot believe I did it,’ ” Espinoza told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I (won) the Triple Crown race now, but I didn’t make any money, because I donated my money to the City of Hope.”
City of Hope is a network of cancer treatment centers, with headquarters in Duarte, Calif., near where Espinoza lives. According to Newsday, the jockey has for years been donating 10 percent of his winnings to that organization, with an emphasis on its pediatric cancer efforts.
“I just saw one kid with that disease and that’s how I changed my life. I changed the way I think. Pretty much I changed everything,” Espinoza told Newsday. “For me, health is No. 1.”
“The kids 6 years old, 10 years old, it’s just heartbreaking,” the 43-year-old jockey added. “They have no idea what they’re missing in life. But believe it or not, they’re the happiest people. When I went to visit them twice, it was amazing to see them, how happy they were.”
No doubt there were plenty of people at City of Hope, young patients and staff alike, happy to see Espinoza make history in the Belmont. Not just because it meant some more funding, but because the jockey has made many friends in California’s pediatric-care community.
Espinoza is not the only one connected with American Pharoah who has charitable inclinations. According to the Courier-Journal, trainer Bob Baffert, along with his wife Jill, is donating $50,000 each to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, the California Retirement Management Account, which benefits retired racehorses, and Old Friends Farm, the home of Silver Charm, which Baffert trained to wins in the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
(H/T SB Nation)