Former Leading Los Al Rider Efrain Garza Dies

Efrain Garza, a leading jockey at Los Alamitos in the 1950s, died February 5.

February 9, 2012

Generic Racing Shot

Former Los Alamitos leading Quarter Horse Efrain Garza, 84, died Sunday, February 5.

One of the first Hispanic jockeys to ride at Los Alamitos, Garza won four riding titles at the Orange County track in the 1950s starting with his first title in the spring of 1956. He also picked up titles in the spring of 1958 and spring and fall of 1959. Garza won 86 Quarter Horse races including six stakes victories at Los Alamitos.

Garza rode in an era of legendary riders that included Richard and Robert Strauss - the later the pilot of the great Go Man Go - and All American Futurity winning riders like Kenny Chapman and Cliff Lambert. Garza's contemporaries also included Tommy Chavez, Nolton Pattio, Henry Page and Donald Allison.

"There were a lot of Garzas around Los Alamitos in those days," said Efrain's nephew, Frank Garza Jr. "They were all brothers. In addition to my Uncle Efrain, his brothers Ike Garza, who worked for the famous King Ranch and Rasmo also rode at Los Alamitos. My dad, Frank Garza Sr. or 'Pancho' as he was called, trained horses, while my Uncle Baldo was a jockey agent. Finally, my Uncle Andy worked for trainer Don Leak. I came along a little later and rode at Los Alamitos along with my Uncle Rasmo's son, Eddie Garza, who was a pretty good 870 rider."

Efrain Garza retired from riding after suffering a broken leg in 1963. He trained horses at Los Alamitos for several years, including the horse that helped give Frank Jr. his first winning ride in 1967. Nearly 50 years after Efrain's retirement from riding, the Garza name continues to be associated with jockeys, as Frank Garza runs a well known jockey school in Thousand Oaks. Current Los Alamitos jockeys like Antonio Alberto, Eulices Gomez and Cheryl Charlton honed their riding skills at Garza's jockey school.

Memorial services for Efrain Garza will be held Saturday, February 11, in Needles, Arizona. For info, call 714-820-2690.