Angel Tomás Cordero Jr.
May 8th, 1942 - Present
Birthplace: Santurce, Puerto Rico
Height: 4'11"  Weight: 105

"If a horse has four legs, and I'm riding it, I think I can win." Jockey Angel Cordero Jr.

Written by Ozzie Gonzalez,
© 2003, All Rights Reserved.

Cordero, Angel Tomás, Jr. was born on May 8, 1942 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. His father, Angel Cordero Vila, was a famous rider and trainer in Puerto Rico.  

Raised in the rich heritage of Puerto Rican horse racing, Angel Cordero Jr. would go to the track to work and learn about horse racing, as early as age five. At the age of 17, Cordero began racing in his homeland, Puerto Rico and rode his first winner in 1960.  When he turned 20 in 1962, he traveled to New York to begin his pro jockey career.  

During his illustrious riding career (1960-1992), Cordero won 7,076 victories in 38,684 races with over $164 million in earnings. Cordero was known as a fierce competitor with a passion for winning.  He won the Saratoga racing title thirteen years (1976-86, 88-89), eleven straight and was considered the king of Saratoga riding.  In 1982 and 1983, Cordero’s impressive record of victories and commitment to the sport and to the thoroughbreds made him recipient of the prestigious Eclipse Award, the most respected award in horse racing.  

In 1974, Cordero won the best-known horse race in North America, the Kentucky Derby, aboard Cannonade. The Kentucky Derby is held annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and is a grueling one and a quarter mile race.  

In 1976, Cordero won the Kentucky Derby for the second time and won the Belmont Stakes a few months later.  Cordero won the Kentucky Derby for a third time in 1985 aboard Spend A Buck.  From 1977 to 1990, Cordero’s mounts won over $5 million each year, a record, including three Kentucky Derby, two Preakness Stakes and four Breeders’ Cup Races.  In 1982, he set a record for jockey earnings when he won over $9 million, several millions more than rival jockey, Laffit Pincay Jr.  

In 1988, Cordero was inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame, but because of his competitive drive, he continued to race.  He raced for another four years, but his famous racing career came to an abrupt stop after a fall at Aqueduct nearly cost him his life.  Upon the advice of his doctors, in 1992, he announced his retirement and returned to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  

Following the steps of his father, he became a trainer.  His first victory as a trainer came July 1994, with Holy Mountain winning the Lexington Stakes at Belmont Park.  Cordero’s racing and training experience encouraged him to continue the Puerto Rican racing legacy.  He became a jockeys’ agent and inspired a fellow Puerto Rican star, John Velazquez, to move to New York and race under his tutelage. With Cordero acting as his agent, Velazquez ranks among the top riders in New York. 

Cordero is a father to three children – Julie, Canela and Angel 3rd.  His wife, Marjorie Clayton Cordero, a well-known figure in New York’s thoroughbred racing as well, tragically died in a hit and run car accident in January, 2001, at the age of 41.


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