-Won the Los Alamitos Winter Championship in 2004 with Buccaneer Beach
-Won the PCQHRA Breeders' Derby with Frankie Shoots in 2007
-Won The Vessels Maturity with Frankie Shoots in 2008
Born in Ayutla, Jalisco near Guadalajara, Mexico, Santos came to the United States as a 17-year-old boy. "I crossed the border in '67 but I always worked hard here," he said. "I became a citizen and now I own five companies and I have nearly 200 people working for my companies." Santos' businesses include Memo's Scaffold Inc, a rental business that extends from northern Mexico up to Sacramento. He also owns a check cashing locale, liquor store, and nursery and is partner in a business that holds an exclusive contract with a high-end department store. He owns a 297-acre ranch near Bakersfield, California as well as a ranch in nearby Chino Hills. He now owns 20 racehorses and eight broodmares. Despite his success, Santos has had his share of difficult times. "I owned a part of a racehorse in the 1990s and had a two other yearlings but I had to give them up," Santos says. "I had a bout with depression and I dropped ill for a long time. My family helped me a great deal. My blood pressure also shot up. It was a difficult time. I had a lot of stress because of my businesses, which was a big reason for my depression. My family helped me a great deal. It got better in 1992."
Santos believes Buccaneer Beach helped him a great deal."Being at Los Alamitos with my horses, I am the happiest person on earth. My main business - Memo's Scaffold - is based in Norwalk, so I am only 20 minutes away from here. I can come out here, be around the barns, and read a book. It is so relaxing; it makes me wish that I didn't have to go back to work."
Santos' racehorses were trained by Charles Treece last year. The two paired up to win many races with the likes of PCQHRA Distance Horse of the Year Kash To Splash and of course, Buccaneer Beach. Santos now has his horses stabled with Jesus Nunez, the same trainer that dropped the claim slip for Buccaneer Beach back in 2003. Gutierrez, the manager of Santos' ranch in Chino, will serve as assistant trainer to the barn with his primary responsibility being Kash To Splash and company. Buccaneer Beach, meanwhile, is now standing stud at Double Bar S Ranch.
**Vessels Maturity Update**
He Shoots, he scores. Powered by a rally that would have made former World Champion Be A Bono proud, Frankie Shoots flew in the final 220 yards to win the $150,000 Vessels Maturity in nearly stakes record time to earn the third guaranteed berth to the $1 million Champion of Champions on Friday at Los Alamitos.
Owned by Jose Santos and trained by Paul Jones, Frankie Shoots won as the 1-2 favorite courtesy of a half-length decision over 37-1 longshot Don Juan Bryan SA. The 4-year-old son of Dashin Bye covered the 400 yards in :19.41, only 2/100ths of a second off the track record set by Five Bar Molly last year. Frankie Shoots completed the final 220 yards in :09.32, one of the fastest closing times ever at Los Alamitos. The fastest time ever recorded in the final 1/8th of a mile here was :09.24 set by 2004 World Champion Be A Bono in the 2006 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap.
Ridden by Cody Jensen, Frankie Shoots now joins Los Alamitos Winter Championship winner A Stoli Mate and the impressive Remington Park Championship winner Chances Are I Wil in the field to this year's prestigious $1 million Champion of Champions.
"I remember being at the meeting where (Los Alamitos Race Course Owner) Dr. Ed Allred made the announcement that the Champion of Champions would have a $1 millin dollar purse," said Santos while in the winner's circle after the Vessels Maturity. "When he made that announcement, never did I imagined that I would have a horse in the $1 million Champion of Champions. Thank you Dr. Allred."
Actually, Santos is no stranger to the Champion of Champions, particularly with a stallion. Champion aged stallion Buccaneer Beach twice represented the owner in the prestigious event for older horses, finishing third in the 2003 running. Buccaneer Beach also participated in the 2004 event.
"That was special with Buccaneer Beach but this has its own unique taste as well," Santos said. "Paul always told me that Frankie Shoots would give some good times and this horse has come through."
Frankie Shoots, who earned $63,000 for the victory, has now bankrolled $227,731. He has won nine of 14 starts, including this year's 350-yard Kaweah Bar Handicap in a sizzling time of :17.21, the 2007 Grade 2 PCQHRA Breeders Derby and Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials, and the 2006 Corona Chick Handicap as a 2-year-old. Bred by John Andreini and Blane Schvaneveldt, Frankie Shoots is named after its former owner Francisco Gonsalez, who also consigned the horse to the 2005 Los Alamitos Equine Sale.
"I remember looking at this horse at the Equine Sale," Santos said. "He was dark and handsome. He had a great looking chest and an all-around nice body. When the bidding started, he was going for about $2,000 and that's when I decided to jump in. I went to about $5,000, then $6,000, and then I just kept quiet. No one else bid and I was thrilled to get him for that price."
Santos had no idea at the time of how good of a racehorse he had just purchased. And in a way Santos, originally, never worried about the racing ability of his new toy.
"Even if he didn't run a lick, I figured that I could still use him as a 'charro' horse," Santos added. "That's why we never gelded him. You want an unaltered horse if you're doing a charro."
A popular a term referring to a traditional horseman or cowboy of Mexico, a charro participates in charreadas, a type of rodeo that is the national sport in Mexico.
"I do about 10 charreadas a year," Santos added.
There are no charreadas in Frankie Shoots' future now, only million dollar races.
Santos, who was accompanied in the winner's circle by his brother Martin, had just returned from Mexico following the passing of his 71-year-old sister, Carmen.
"I used to visit her quite often and she loved the horses and the races," the owner added. "Whenever I visited her I would take her to see the races in Mexico D.F. or we would go to Caliente if I had a horse running at that night. She loved the horses, and I know she's watching us from above. This win is for my sister."
Leaving the gate from post seven, Frankie Shoots was fourth at the start of the Vessels before finding his next gear at the midway point. He flew by Don Juan Bryan SA at around the 1/8th pole before accelerating impressively on the way to victory.
"He's such a big strong horse," Jensen said. "It can take him a little while to get going."