Fernando Toro

Throughout his distinguished career in the irons, Fernando Toro consistently ranked among the best of the best in some of the most accomplished and deepest jockey colonies in the history of American thoroughbred racing.




Jan. 31, 1941, Santiago, Chile







Racing Record


Win %


Throughout his distinguished career in the irons, Fernando Toro consistently ranked among the best of the best in some of the most accomplished and deepest jockey colonies in the history of American thoroughbred racing.

Based in California, Toro competed successfully against the likes of Hall of Famers Laffit Pincay, Jr., Sandy Hawley, William Shoemaker, Don Pierce, and Darrel McHargue, among other standouts, during the 1970s. In the 1980s, California’s talent pool of exceptional riders added all-time greats such as Chris McCarron, Gary Stevens, Eddie Delahoussaye, Alex Solis, and Patrick Valenzuela. Throughout both decades, Toro was entrenched among the elite.

Born in Santiago, Chile, on Jan. 31, 1941, Toro was a proven rider in his native country prior to moving to the United States. After winning his first race in November 1956 at the age of 15, Toro went on to become a two-time leading jockey in Chile in the mid-1960s. His major victories there included three editions of the prestigious Gran Premio. In 1964, he won the Clasico St. Leger — the second leg of the Chilean Triple Crown — aboard Pair of Aces.

Opportunities, however, were more abundant for a top rider in the United States, prompting Toro to take his shot at American racing in 1966. When he retired in 1990 at the age of 49, Toro had won 3,555 races in North America, including just about every significant race contested in Southern California.

“I was blessed to have the career I did. I never took it for granted,” Toro said. “I rode a lot of good horses for a lot of good trainers. It meant a lot to me that the trainers trusted me. I always gave my best and I’m proud of how hard I worked and the results.”

Toro ranked in the top 10 in stakes wins at Del Mar (No. 6), Hollywood Park (No. 8), and Santa Anita (tied at No. 8) at the time of his retirement. At Del Mar, he won 38 stakes, including four editions of the Escondido (1970, 1978, 1987, 1988) and San Clemente (1974, 1975, 1979, 1987); consecutive runnings of the Ramona Handicap (1971, 1972); and two renewals of the Del Mar Derby (1970, 1981) and Del Mar Oaks (1970, 1978). He also won the Del Mar Futurity (1971), Eddie Read (1977), and San Diego (1978). Only Shoemaker, Pincay, McCarron, Pierce, and Delahoussaye had more Del Mar Stakes wins than Toro through 1990.

At Hollywood Park, Toro ranks No. 8 in both overall wins (823) and stakes (83). He won the Beverly Hills Handicap five times (1977, 1978, 1983, 1984, 1986); the American (1975 both divisions, 1982, 1989) and Wilshire (1972, 1976, 1980, 1987) four times each; the Sunset (1976, 1985, 1988) and Premiere (1976, 1986, 1987) three times each; and the Gamely (1979, 1980), Inglewood (1973, 1984), and Vanity (1971, 1976) twice each. Toro also swept both divisions of the 1983 Hollywood Derby and won the Hollywood Turf Cup (1982), Swaps (1983), and Triple Bend (1978), among others.

Toro’s 620 wins at Sant Anita included 55 stakes. He had three wins in both the Santa Margarita (1974, 1976, 1984) and Strub (1976, 1981, 1986); two in the Carleton F. Burke (1979, 1981), San Carlos (1973, 1977), San Felipe (1975, 1981), San Pasqual (1975, 1977), Santa Ana (1978, 1985), Santa Monica (1974, 1975), Santa Susana (1976, 1977), and San Marcos (1976, 1985); and single wins in the Arcadia (1976), Malibu (1974), Monrovia (1973), Oak Leaf (1974), Oak Tree Mile (1987), Palos Verdes (1972), San Fernando (1978), San Gabriel (1985), San Luis Obispo (1976), San Luis Rey (1977), San Vicente (1973), Santa Maria (1978), and Yellow Ribbon (1986), among others.

“I loved riding in California. The competition kept you sharp every day,” Toro said. “You knew in every race that the guys you were competing against were really good and that you had to give your best if you were going to have a chance to win.”

Although best known for his California success, Toro ventured throughout the United States and into Canada with tremendous results. He won the Apple Blossom (1988) at Oaklawn in Arkansas; the Arlington Million (1986) and Stars and Stripes (1987) at Arlington Park in Illinois; the Ashland (1977) at Keeneland in Kentucky; the Dominion Day (1979), Jockey Club Cup (1979), and Seagram Cup (1968) at Woodbine in Canada; the Longacres Derby (1984) in Washington; the Hawthorne Gold Cup (1987) at Hawthorne in Illinois, the Louisville Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs in Kentucky; the Manhattan (1976) and Tremont (1969) at Belmont Park in New York; the Pan American (1968) and Rampart (1988) at Gulfstream in Florida; and the Widener (1969) at Hialeah in Florida.

In November 1983, Toro took over as the regular rider of Royal Heroine for emerging trainer John Gosden. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2022, Royal Heroine won the Hollywood Derby (Division 1), Inglewood, Beverly Hills Handicap, inaugural Breeders’ Cup Mile, and Matriarch with Toro aboard.

“I rode some special horses … Royal Heroine was right up there at the top,” Toro said. “We won some really big races together. She was great … tremendous talent and just moved so well … a lot of natural ability.”

Gosden was one of several top-level trainers who regularly gave Toro a leg up on their horses. The list included Hall of Famers Laz Barrera, Gary Jones, Richard Mandella, Ron McAnally, and Charlie Whittingham. Although he earned a reputation as a brilliant turf rider, Toro proved more than efficient on the dirt and at any distance.

Along with Royal Heroine, Toro won stakes with Hall of Famers Ancient Title, Cougar II, and Manila. He also won multiple stakes with champion Estrapade, as well as Adored, By Land By Sea, Caucasus, Dahar, Miss Toshiba, Nostalgia’s Star, Spence Bay, Super Moment, Tizna, and Wishing Well, among others.

According to Equibase statistics, Toro won 80 graded stakes from 1976 through 1990 and finished with career earnings of $56,299,765 in North America. Known as a fierce competitor but also as someone who respected the rules of the sport, Toro was voted the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1975.

“I’m very thankful for the career I had,” Toro said. “To be a jockey was my dream and it turned out pretty well. Can’t ask for more than that.”


Breeders' Cup Highlights

Won the 1984 Mile — Royal Heroine 

Jockey Profile | Fernando Toro | Equibase is Your Official Source for Thoroughbred Racing Information



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