After a weekend of outstanding racing at Belmont Park, the quality racing continues this weekend with a stakes filled card at Churchill Downs on Saturday. The feature race is the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at a mile and an eighth on the dirt.
The favorite in the Stephen Foster is Effinex, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, the New York bred son of Mineshaft makes his first start since winning the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in April. He won the Grade 1 Clark Handicap in his only start at Churchill Downs. Regular jockey Mike Smith is scheduled to ride Songbird at Santa Anita in the Summertime Oaks so Gary Stevens picks up the mount.
Stevens is scheduled to ride in four of the five graded stakes at Churchill on Saturday and he has ten mounts total the next three days. His cost is $8000 so you must decide if the quality is worth the cost here. After this weekend, Stevens is scheduled to return to ride in Southern California on a full time basis with his new agent, Mike Ciani.
One jockey that will be busy this weekend at Churchill Downs is Florent Geroux. The Frenchman is named to ride 21 horses at Churchill this weekend, including mounts in all of the stakes races on Saturday. He is named to ride three morning line favorites in graded stakes that day, Gun Runner in the Grade 3 Matt Winn, Untapable in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis and he is reunited on The Pizza Man in the Grade 2 Wise Dan. His cost is $10,500, which is fourth highest overall this week.
The highest priced jockey is the nation’s leading rider Jose Ortiz. Now players need to be careful as Ortiz is named to ride at Belmont on Friday and Saturday but will be at Monmouth Park on Sunday. Ortiz is named to ride in 17 races at Belmont and his cost is $12,000. His brother Irad is the second highest priced jockey at $11,500. He will be at Belmont all weekend and is named to ride in 25 of the 28 scheduled races.
At Santa Anita, an interesting mid priced jockey to look at is Santiago Gonzalez. He is named to ride in 21 races the next three days. His value is $8000. That is great value compared to Edwin Maldonado at $8500. Edwin is named to ride in 10 races on Friday and Saturday but he won’t be riding on Sunday as he starts a three day suspension.
Flavien Prat, who has a cost of $9500 and is named to ride in 20 races this weekend, was supposed to serve a three day suspension starting Thursday, June 16th. But he had it stayed and he will now serve it next week, from June 23rd to June 25th. But since he will ride in two designated graded stakes on June 25th, Prat will have to serve an additional day, most likely June 26th.
At Gulfstream, leading rider Emasiel Jaramillo is named to ride in 16 races this weekend. His cost in $9000 but there could be good value with some of the lower priced jocks that ride at Gulfstream. Matt Rispoli is named to ride in 15 races and his cost is $6500. Tyler Gaffalione, who just returned to riding after missing a few days due to a lung infection, is named to ride in 14 races. His cost is $8500. Apprentice John Cruz, cost $7000, is also named to ride in 14 races this weekend.