INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Jockey Rafael Bejarano has become a U.S. citizen.
The 29-year-old Peru native was sworn in Friday during a ceremony in Louisville, Ky., before flying back to California so he could ride on the evening card at Betfair Hollywood Park. He passed his citizenship test two months ago.
Bejarano began his riding career as a 17-year-old in Peru. He came to the United States in May 2002 and settled at River Downs racetrack in Cincinnati with trainer Dante Zanelli, who attended the ceremony along with Bejarano’s friend and fellow jockey, Julio Espinoza.
“I’m really happy,” Bejarano said. “It was a big step for me.”
Bejarano has won 15 riding titles at Southern California’s three major tracks, along with more than 2,700 victories and more than $123 million in purse earnings. He has won two Breeders’ Cup races.