Jacinto Vasquez was born in Panama in 1944 and was a leading apprentice rider in his native country before moving to the United States in 1960. Based mostly in New York and Florida, Vasquez won 5,231 races in his career and captured the Kentucky Derby twice.
Vasquez is best known as the regular rider of Hall of Famer Ruffian. He also rode Hall of Famers Genuine Risk, Foolish Pleasure, Forego, Manila, and Princess Rooney, as well as champions Christmas Past, Revidere, Risen Star, Smile, and Lemhi Gold.
On two occasions, Vasquez defeated the legendary Secretariat (aboard Angle Light in the Wood Memorial and with Onion in the Whitney). He won the Kentucky Derby in 1975 with Foolish Pleasure and with Genuine Risk in 1980 when she became only the second filly to win the Derby.
Vasquez was the leading rider at Calder’s winter meet five times (1973, 1974, 1980, 1981 and 1991). In 1967, he won six races on two individual cards at Atlantic City, including a six-race sweep. In the final two decades of his career, Vasquez won 268 stakes races.
Notable races won by Vasquez include the Travers Stakes (2), Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Acorn Stakes (2), Mother Goose Stakes (2), Sanford Stakes (2), Hopeful Stakes, Withers Stakes (2), Saratoga Special (2), Test Stakes (3), Wood Memorial (2), Whitney Handicap, Champagne Stakes (2), Coaching Club American Oaks (3), Jerome Handicap, Man o’ War Stakes, Pennsylvania Derby, Brooklyn Handicap (3), Diana Handicap, Kentucky Oaks, Blue Grass Stakes (2), Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Lexington Stakes.
Jacinto Vasquez was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1998.
Vasquez guides the great Ruffian
to victory in the 1975 Acorn
© 1975 Bob Coglianese