By Mint Julep


Ismael Valenzuela Jockey: Two Kentucky Derby Wins

1958 kentucky derby winner tim tam

A quick overview: Join the exciting journey of Ismael Valenzuela, a top jockey who showed incredible talent in Thoroughbred horse racing. Starting from Texas and rising to fame nationally, Valenzuela’s legacy is all about his two wins at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. These victories highlight his amazing skills and determination on the biggest stages in racing. His lasting impact on the sport includes winning Horse of the Year awards and being honored with a spot in the Hall of Fame, solidifying his status as a true legend in horse racing.

Early Life and Racing Beginnings

Ismael Valenzuela, known affectionately as “Milo,” started his incredible journey on December 25, 1934, in McNary, Texas. Growing up with immigrant parents who taught him the value of hard work at a young age, Milo’s path to success began modestly but with a profound love for horses. He kicked off his career as a jockey at a racetrack in Tucson, Arizona after mastering skills with quarter horses—a pivotal moment that set the stage for his eventual rise to fame.

Valenzuela quickly gained national recognition as he fearlessly competed in the prestigious American Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. His talent and unwavering dedication stood out among fierce rivals on renowned horse racing tracks. With each race and victory achieved, Ismael Valenzuela created a legacy that transcended generations by setting new standards of excellence and sportsmanship that captivated audiences worldwide.

The thrill of riding powerful horses became second nature to Valenzuela—an effortless partnership between man and beast few could match. Galloping into history books atop majestic steeds with grace and finesse almost supernatural; it was evident that Milo hadn’t just found a job but had discovered an undeniable passion deeply ingrained within him. Overcoming physical challenges and mental hurdles race after race showcased true mastery unfolding before entranced crowds across the globe.

From humble beginnings navigating dusty tracks to weaving through excited spectators at iconic events like the Kentucky Derby or Belmont Stakes—Valenzuela’s story vividly painted itself against the backdrop of American horseracing legend. The cheers echoing post each triumphant finish lingered long after he dismounted; solid proof that Ismael “Milo” Valenzuela wasn’t merely another jockey—he emerged as an icon whose legend rode alongside history itself—a lasting testimony to perseverance, skill, and unyielding determination embodied by one extraordinary individual.

Kentucky Derby and Preakness Wins

Valenzuela proved his exceptional skills by winning the prestigious American Classic Races not once, but twice. His first victory was in 1958 when he rode Tim Tam to win at the famous Kentucky Derby. Ten years later, in 1968, Valenzuela showcased his talent again as he guided Forward Pass to another impressive win at Churchill Downs.

Ismael Valenzuela didn’t just settle for one amazing achievement – he continued to excel by winning even at the challenging Preakness Stakes. During these years, his skill and dedication were evident as he achieved success on some of horse racing’s biggest stages, leaving a lasting mark on history.

With his determination and talent, Valenzuela became a legend by achieving what many only dream of – winning both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes multiple times. These victories not only cemented his place among racing greats but also stand as a testament to his enduring legacy that still inspires today’s generation in the horse racing community.

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legends


  1. Ismael Valenzuela, a renowned Jockey in the Hall of Fame
  2. Won the Kentucky Derby two times
  3. Specializes in horse racing tactics and strategy
  4. Serves as an inspiration for jockeys looking to succeed
  5. Has participated in numerous high-stakes racing events


  1. Being in a high-pressure environment can make you feel stressed and burnt out
  2. Horse racing injuries can pose physical risks to the riders
  3. Juggling a busy schedule that involves lots of travel
  4. Your career as a rider may be short due to the strain on your body
  5. In horse racing, there is tough competition for the top races

Kelso Partnership and Major Stakes Victories

Ismael Valenzuela and Kelso were an unbeatable team in the early 1960s. They won twenty-two top races together, showing everyone they were the best on the track. During this time, Valenzuela even outdid Round Table to become the highest-earning jockey in Thoroughbred racing history, proving his amazing talent and strong bond with his horse.

But their success didn’t end there. Valenzuela and Kelso kept winning big titles like Horse of the Year multiple times, making them legendary in horse racing history as a powerful duo that couldn’t be beaten. Their connection went way beyond just competing; it was like a perfect harmony of trust, speed, and determination that could be felt every time they raced side by side.

With each win at major events, Ismael Valenzuela showed over and over again that he wasn’t just good at riding horses – he was a true master at it. His skill in guiding Kelso through tough races highlighted his deep understanding of these incredible animals’ abilities—making every race a beautiful display of strength and precision that left spectators amazed.

The story of Ismael Valenzuela’s partnership with Kelso continues to inspire young jockeys and fans today—a reminder that hard work, talent, and passion can create something truly magical in the world of Thoroughbred racing. Their journey is proof that greatness can come from anywhere when paired with dedication and unwavering spirit.

Looking back on their incredible achievements during those thrilling ’60s years brings one thing into focus—their tale isn’t just about winning races or getting awards; it’s about forming bonds so strong they defy all odds—a partnership forever remembered for its triumphs both on racetracks worldwide—and within hearts touched by their extraordinary adventure.

George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award

Ismael Valenzuela received the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1963, showcasing his exceptional talent both on and off the racetrack. This prestigious award recognizes jockeys who excel not only in racing but also demonstrate unwavering integrity and professionalism within North American thoroughbred horse racing.

Starting from humble beginnings, Ismael Valenzuela climbed the ranks with determination and skill. He captured hearts with his outstanding performances at various racetracks across the continent. His journey serves as an inspiration for young jockeys, showing how hard work, talent, and a strong commitment to excellence can lead to success in this competitive sport.

Valenzuela’s career was filled with victories that solidified his reputation as one of the top jockeys of his time. His ability to form strong partnerships with horses set him apart, guiding them to triumph after triumph on some of horse racing’s most famous stages.

In addition to his success on horseback, Ismael Valenzuela made a lasting impact on Thoroughbred racing history through sportsmanship and dedication to ethical standards within the industry. He served as a role model for fellow riders and fans alike—earning respect not just for wins but also for conducting himself gracefully in victory or defeat.

The George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award given to Ismael Valenzuela is a significant honor highlighting not only his achievements but also emphasizing his enduring legacy within North American horseracing circles. It represents more than just sporting accomplishments; it embodies values like honor, perseverance, and camaraderie that continue inspiring generations of jockeys striving for excellence both on and off the track.

Legendary Jockey: Ismael Valenzuela’s Racing Achievements

Attribute Information
Name Ismael Valenzuela
Occupation Jockey
Born December 25, 1934
McNary, Texas, United States
Died September 2, 2009 (aged 74)
Career wins 2,545
Major racing wins – Woodward Stakes (1956, 1962, 1963)
– Roamer Handicap (1957)
– San Antonio Handicap (1957)
– San Vicente Stakes (1957, 1960)
– Coaching Club American Oaks (1958)
– Cowdin Stakes (1959)
– Champagne Stakes
– Brooklyn Handicap (1960)
– Great American Stakes (1961)
– National Stallion Stakes (1961)
– National Stallion Stakes (filly division) (1961)
– Toboggan Handicap (1962)
– San Gabriel Handicap (1962, 1963)
– Jockey Club Gold Cup (1962, 1963, 1964)
– San Juan Capistrano Handicap (1958, 1963)
– Gardenia Stakes (1963)
– Whitney Handicap (1963, 1965)
– Washington, D.C. International (1964)
– Stymie Handicap (1965)
– Canadian International Stakes (1966)
– Blue Grass Stakes (1968)
– American Derby (1968)
– Santa Anita Derby (1974)
American Classic Race wins:
– Kentucky Derby (1958, 1968)
– Preakness Stakes (1958, 1968)
Racing awards George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award (1963)
Honors United States Racing Hall of Fame (2008)
Significant horses Affectionately, Cicada, Castle Forbes, Forward Pass, George Royal, Kelso, Native Diver, Porterhouse, Round Table, Sir Gaylord, Searching, Tim Tam

Induction Into Hall of Fame

Ismael Valenzuela made outstanding contributions to horse racing that earned him a spot in the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 2008. Despite facing health challenges later in life, he received recognition for his exceptional achievements within the industry through this prestigious honor.

Valenzuela had an impressive career as a jockey, achieving incredible success on the racetrack. Known for his skill and finesse, he won many prestigious races, including two Kentucky Derbies riding horses like Tim Tam and Northern Dancer. His ability to build strong partnerships with top trainers and develop winning strategies set him apart from others in the field.

Throughout his time in Thoroughbred racing, Ismael Valenzuela was known not only for his talent but also for his unwavering dedication to the sport. He had a deep passion for working with horses and honed his skills tirelessly over many years. This commitment showed in every race he rode, establishing him as one of the most respected jockeys of his era.

Being inducted into the Hall of Fame was a fitting tribute to Valenzuela’s lasting legacy in horse racing. It celebrated not just his long list of victories but also highlighted how he influenced shaping the sport itself. His journey from starting out humbly to becoming a revered champion serves as inspiration to aspiring riders everywhere—a testament to hard work, perseverance, and an unyielding love for these majestic animals who capture our hearts on every stride toward glory down that homestretch.

Family Legacy in Racing

The Valenzuela family ruled the horse racing world, with Ismael Valenzuela and his three brothers, along with his nephew Pat Valenzuela, all making a name for themselves as successful jockeys. Their strong bond not only showed their love for the sport but also highlighted how they influenced Thoroughbred racing together. Each family member brought their own style to the racetrack and left a lasting impact on every race they competed in.

Their legacy went beyond just winning races; it stood as proof of the deep passion and dedication that flowed through their veins. The Valenzuelas weren’t simply riders—they were innovators who changed how people saw horse racing. Their teamwork inspired future generations of riders and fans, leaving a lasting mark on the industry.

The influence of the Valenzuelas wasn’t limited to racecourses; it echoed in discussions about tactics, speed, and determination. Their special connection with horses was more than just skill—it was a silent language shared between them and these magnificent animals that captured hearts worldwide.

As each brother rode or passed down knowledge to younger family members entering the scene, they created a tapestry filled with tales of triumphs, overcoming challenges through resilience, and an unwavering pursuit of greatness. The Valenzuelas didn’t ride solo; they rode side by side in spirit—a united front charging towards success with every step taken on those legendary tracks where dreams come true and heroes are made.

Legendary Tales of Valenzuela: Derby Triumphs Unveiled

  1. Legendary Stories of Valenzuela: Unveiling Epic Wins at the Derby
  2. Northern Dancer, ridden by Ismael Valenzuela, clinched the Kentucky Derby victory in 1964 under his skilled jockeying. This triumph not only marked Valenzuela’s first win at the prestigious race but also established him as a highly talented jockey.
  3. Fast forward to 1968, and we see Ismael Valenzuela steering Forward Pass to glory at the Kentucky Derby. With this impressive win, Valenzuela joined an elite group of jockeys who have secured multiple victories at this celebrated event.
  4. The success that Ismael Valenzuela enjoyed at the Kentucky Derby carved out a special place for him in racing history due to his exceptional achievements. His legendary expertise in guiding horses on track towards triumphs remains unmatched even today.
  5. By securing two wins at the renowned Kentucky Derby, Ismael Valenzuela solidified his position as a prominent figure within horse racing circles. His unique ability to forge strong connections with horses and leverage their individual strengths distinguished him as one of the top jockeys around.
  6. In addition to showcasing remarkable talent, Isamel Velanzulea’s victories underscored his unwavering commitment to horseracing—a dedication that has made him synonymous with excellence in this iconic sport’s history.

Personal Tragedy and Later Years

After retiring from racing with more than 2,500 wins under his belt, Ismael Valenzuela faced a tragic loss when his wife suddenly passed away due to complications from a prescribed medication. Despite these hardships, he remained highly respected within the racing community until he passed away in September 2009.

In his later years, Valenzuela focused on mentoring young jockeys and sharing his vast knowledge with aspiring talent. His love for the sport never faded as he dedicated himself to nurturing future riders who saw him as a role model.

Even in the face of challenges and sorrow, Valenzuela’s spirit stayed strong. His legacy lives on not only through his outstanding accomplishments on the racetrack but also in the hearts of those lucky enough to have known him personally or witnessed his incredible career unfold before their eyes.

Lasting Impact and Legacy

Ismael “Milo” Valenzuela made a huge impact on Thoroughbred horse racing, where he is known for his excellence. He won the prestigious Kentucky Derby twice, a rare feat achieved by only a few jockeys. His wins showcased his amazing talent and dedication to the sport.

Apart from his success at the Derby, Ismael Valenzuela also had many other major victories during his time as a jockey. He didn’t just win races; he dominated them with finesse and skill that amazed spectators. Each victory added to his impressive career, establishing him as one of the best jockeys in horse racing history.

His entry into the Hall of Fame wasn’t just routine – it recognized his exceptional skills and contributions to Thoroughbred racing history. Valenzuela’s presence alongside other legends solidified him as an icon in horse racing—a symbol of perseverance, passion, and brilliance on the track.

Despite facing personal challenges along the way—struggles that would have discouraged others—Valenzuela remained determined to achieve greatness. His ability to overcome obstacles both on and off the track serves as an inspiration for young jockeys and fans who see him as a role model of hope and determination.

As we look back on Ismael “Milo” Valenzuela’s impact on Thoroughbred horse racing today, we don’t just see wins or titles; we witness a legacy marked by success across racetracks worldwide—a legacy founded not only on victories but also integrity, sportsmanship, and love for these incredible animals that captivate our hearts every time they race towards glory down that homestretch.


1. How did Ismael Valenzuela’s early experiences shape his career as a jockey?

Ismael Valenzuela started his journey with a strong drive and humble beginnings, which set the stage for his remarkable success as a jockey. These early experiences propelled him to become a celebrated legend in Thoroughbred racing, earning him a well-deserved spot in the Hall of Fame.

2. What were the key factors that contributed to Ismael Valenzuela’s success in winning two Kentucky Derbies?

Ismael Valenzuela won two Kentucky Derbies because he is an amazing jockey, knows horse racing tactics well, and never gives up on becoming the best in the sport.

3. Can you elaborate on some of the most memorable races Ismael Valenzuela participated in during his illustrious career?

Ismael Valenzuela had an amazing career as a champion jockey, winning unforgettable races like the Kentucky Derby with Tim Tam in 1958 and Northern Dancer in 1964. These victories made him a legendary figure in Thoroughbred racing history.

4. How did Ismael Valenzuela’s induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame impact the world of horse racing?

Ismael Valenzuela’s entry into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame raised the status of horse racing by recognizing his exceptional skill, fair play, and lasting impact as a top jockey. His achievements motivate future generations to strive for greatness.

5. What challenges did Ismael Valenzuela face throughout his career, and how did he overcome them to achieve greatness in Thoroughbred racing?

Ismael Valenzuela encountered personal and professional obstacles during his career, such as language barriers and injuries. However, he conquered them with determination, skill, and resilience to establish himself as a renowned champion jockey in Thoroughbred racing.

6. In what ways has Ismael Valenzuela left a lasting legacy in the sport of horse racing, particularly as a dual Kentucky Derby winner?

Ismael Valenzuela made a lasting impact in horse racing by winning the Kentucky Derby twice. His exceptional skill, strong determination, and remarkable achievements left an indelible mark on Thoroughbred racing that continues to be felt today.