Leandro Mora and teacher Doug O’Neill with Madaket Sundown, winner of Friday’s 7th race at Santa Anita
With fifteen bucks in his pocket and no longer a lot else, 18-year-old Leandro Mora spoke no English and possessed few marketable abilities when he arrived on the Santa Anita barn of teacher Gary Jones in March, 1977. Jones, who would ultimately earn induction into racing’s Corridor of Repute, gave Mora his first shot at achieving the American Dream, some 1,630 miles north of his local house within the state of Colima, Mexico.
“Once I first got here right here, all I knew was once that I sought after to take a look at to get a role with the horses,” stated Mora, 60, from Clockers’ Nook on Friday morning. “At the moment, everyone sought after to paintings for Gary Jones as a result of he had excellent horses and he gained a large number of races. A pal of mine had a brother-in-law that labored there, in order that’s how I were given in. There was once little or no turnover, so there have been no jobs to be had as a groom. So, I went to paintings strolling hots and I simply attempted to be informed up to I may just.
“I labored for Gary for approximately seven or 8 months after which I went to paintings for David Bernstein, which was once a excellent alternative for me. By means of this time, I used to be grooming horses and I discovered so much as a result of we had moderately a couple of less expensive horses. The costliest horse we had to start with was once a $25,000 claimer and the remaining had been mainly 10 or twelve-five (thousand buck) horses. That have taught me so much about how one can handle their legs and such things as that.
“I used to be very lucky, as a result of David knew how badly I sought after to be informed English and he helped me. I did the whole thing I may just to be informed it. I went to the grownup training program at Monrovia Top College for 3 months and I watched cartoons. I watched displays like I Love Lucy, The Younger and the Stressed, The Rifleman, Dukes of Danger and I listened to the radio. Sooner or later, I began to pick out it up and I used to be talking lovely excellent English.”
5 years after being employed by means of Bernstein, Mora discovered himself at the highway.
“I love to commute and Dave knew it,” stated Mora. “He had picked up a large proprietor, named Paul Lerner. Dave went to a few gross sales and acquired some great horses for him and in the summertime of 1983, he despatched me to Louisiana Downs in Shreveport, with 5 horses, all owned by means of the similar man. Being by myself, clear of our barn in California, taught me so much and made me higher.”
Following an eight-year run with Bernstein, Mora was once employed by means of John Sadler, however lasted handiest 3 months.
“John had a excellent barn and he handled me rather well, nevertheless it did not figure out. He had guys that have been running for him a very long time and I suppose it’s essential say it simply wasn’t a excellent have compatibility for me, nevertheless it ended up being a blessing.”
Employed on Dec. 24, 1986 by means of teacher Brian Mayberry, Mora would quickly turn out to be an integral a part of one in every of The us’s maximum a hit operations, one who advanced most sensible 2-year-olds at an astonishingly a hit charge.
“I used to be able to visit paintings, however Brian advised me ‘Take Christmas Time off and you’ll be able to get started on opening day at Santa Anita.’ Brian and (his spouse) Jeannie had been circle of relatives to me and no longer simply with the horses, however existence. They turned into like my followed oldsters. I discovered such a lot from them. They’d by no means to visit 2-year-old in coaching gross sales, they might cross to yearling gross sales and have a look at 300 to 400 horses and purchase perhaps simply two or 3.
“Those horses were given despatched to a chum of theirs, Clyde Rice, in Ocala after which we might get 18 to 20 two-year-olds in March and April at Hollywood Park. The Siegel’s (Jan, Mace & Samantha) owned maximum of our horses and Martin Pedroza gained a ton of maiden races for us. I take into accout we gained the Hollywood Juvenile two years in a row with Eddie Delahoussaye (1994, Altazaar and 1993, Ramblin Man)* and he additionally gained the (1994) Kentucky Oaks with Sardula. And, it was once lovely superb, however we additionally gained 5 Landaluce’s with 2-year-old fillies.”
Mora culminated a just about 12-year run with the Mayberry circle of relatives in a while after Brian succumbed to lung most cancers on July 20, 1998. Following a 2 ½ 12 months stint with teacher Tim Pinfield, Mora joined forces with Doug O’Neill in 2001 and so they had been quickly on their technique to turning into a countrywide juggernaut.
“Doug and I take to each other straight away,” he stated. “Doug is a man, if you realize him, you’ll be able to’t depart him. He really appreciates what everybody does and he thank you all of them. We expect alike. In case you have a excellent, glad employee, he will give 100 % to his solid.”
In a dating that now spans 18 years, Mora, as O’Neill’s leader assistant, has been a key think about taking a lot of coaching titles in any respect Southern California tracks together with tasting victory in a mess of stakes, together with the 2012 Kentucky Derby with I will Have Every other, 2016 Derby with Nyquist, and 5 Breeders’ Cup wins spanning from 2005 thru 2015.
“When other folks question me in regards to the horses, I inform them they’re the whole thing. I really like historical past and I have learn so much in regards to the U.S. Cavalry and the way they handled their horses. In the ones days, the horses were given fed, watered and bedded down earlier than the lads did. With out the pony, they’d not anything and that’s the reason precisely the way in which it’s right here on the racetrack. We do not exist right here with out our horses. We like them and we give them the very best care.
“On a daily basis at the racetrack along with your horses is a contemporary, new day. On a daily basis is other. The most productive success is profitable a race, any race and realizing that you just helped him win.”
Even supposing lately separated from his spouse, who’s the mummy in their kids, Roberto Carlos, 28 and Andrew Andreas, 25, Mora just lately purchased a house in close by Glendora and is fast to recognize the alternatives that experience come his method since immigrating as an adolescent.
“My circle of relatives has been so lucky and we’re very, very grateful to Santa Anita and the racing business for offering the clinical clinics that they have got right here. My spouse and children are nonetheless coated for the whole thing and we even have been ready to obtain moderately a little bit of cash for our retirement, because of a basis that was once arrange a few years in the past.
“I knew there have been alternatives right here in the usA. that did not exist anyplace else. No different nation on the earth gives everybody, any race, colour, the lifestyle we’ve right here. So long as an individual is clever, able to paintings and is all the time within the strategy of finding out and getting higher, there are such a lot of alternatives. A excellent listener by no means fails.”
Here is hoping Leandro Mora’s tale is certainly heard, in every single place.
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