A popular jockeys' room valet and former jockey, Luis Leon passed away peacefully Tuesday evening at age 90, according to his son David. He suffered a heart attack recently and succumbed to the effects of the COVID-19 virus while hospitalized. Leon is survived by his wife Juanita, a daughter Sylvia and four sons, Louis, Jr., David, Mike and Victor. Services are pending.
Born Sept. 7, 1930 in Fresno, California, Leon became a contract rider with Rex Ellsworth in the 1950s and 60s. While working under Hall of Fame trainer Mesh Tenney, Leon was nicknamed “The Cheetah.”
As a valet, his services were in keen demand and he worked for a number of top riders over the years including Eddie Delahoussaye, Patrick Valenzuela, Martin Pedroza, Aaron Gryder, Rafael Meza, David Flores and many others.
Following his retirement from the jockeys' room, Leon and his wife lived on his ranch southeast of San Diego.