Ortega Family Fundraiser
What: High School Baseball
Who: Charter Oak vs. Covina, 2 p.m.; South Hills vs. Northview, 5 p.m.
Where: Azusa Pacific University
When: Monday, Jan. 19.
Admission: $2 minimum donation. All donations also are accepted and all proceeds from snack bar sals will go to the family
ARCADIA – Tears freely flowed Thursday at Santa Anita when Return of the King stepped into the Winner’s Circle. Friends and family members of Joseph, James and Charles Ortega had come to see their seven-year-old chestnut gelding race for perhaps the last time from the barn of trainer David Bernstein. The three Ortegas were among nine family members slain at a Covina home on Christmas Eve by Bruce Pardo, the estranged husband of Joseph’s daughter Sylvia.
“This was special,” Bernstein said. “It was hard to keep from crying from the moment he left the paddock.” Jockey Martin Pedroza, who has raced in Breeder’s Cup events and won the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap in 1989, guided Return of the King through a nearly flawless 6-furlong trip around one turn on the dirt track. Crossing the finish line Pedroza raised his whip to the sky and briefly bowed his head. “I’ve been riding for 26 years, the feeling I had today was amazing,” Pedroza said. “It’s very hard to describe. I had goose bumps up and down my arms as I was coming back (to the Winner’s Circle.)”
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