A busy week in racing was also one of transition, as Gulfstream Park and Fair Grounds Racecourse concluded their marquee winter meets. We’ll examine the jockey results from the final weeks at those tracks here, as well as the waning days of the Oaklawn and Santa Anita meets and the beginning of the brief Aqueduct spring meet. Be sure to use this information when taking part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
Irad Ortiz Jr. picked up where he left off last week after winning the inner dirt meet. He won eight races from 23 starts, including Sunday’s Grade III Top Flight Handicap on Mo’ Green. Ortiz Jr. was in the money an additional five times. Also getting off on the right foot were Cornelio Velasquez (four wins from 17 mounts) and Manny Franco (three wins from 18 mounts).
Aqueduct will conduct five-day racing weeks from now through the end of April. The first turf race of the season is scheduled for Saturday, Wood Memorial day.
Florent Geroux secured leading rider honors weeks ago, but it became official at the end of last week. Geroux finished with 98 wins, well-clear of Robby Albarado, who was second with 61 Fair Grounds victories.
Geroux was also tops in purse money earned with over $2.8 million, but second in that category was Brian Hernandez Jr. ($2 million) despite having just 29 wins at the meet. Hernandez Jr. won Saturday’s most lucrative race, the $1 million Louisiana Derby, on Girvin.
Luis Saez wrapped up a fantastic championship meet at Gulfstream with a four-win week. He did not even participate in the closing Sunday card, coasting to a 12-win victory (102-90) over Paco Lopez.
Jose Ortiz had a solid five-win week from 32 starts, with 10 additional ITM finishes. He took down the Grade II Honey Fox on Celestine as well as the Cutler Bay on Dover Cliffs.
Taking down the $1 million Florida Derby was Hall-of-Famer John Velazquez on Always Dreaming.
There are just two weeks of racing left at Oaklawn, and none of the leading jockeys are giving an inch.
Ramon Vazquez forged to the lead (41) on the strength of a six-win week. Ricardo Santana Jr. and Geovanni Franco are now tied at 40 wins apiece in second, with Alex Canchari a close fourth at 38 victories. Santana Jr. leads all riders in purse money earned at a robust $1.9 million.
Flavien Prat is in the driver’s seat as the last week of racing at this early Santa Anita meet arrives. He leads Tyler Baze by eight (56-48) after compiling a four-win week.
The wins were well-divided at “The Great Race Place” last week, even in the stakes. Martin Garcia took the Santana Mile on Collected, Victor Espinoza won Saturday’s Grade I race for Arabians on Paddys Day, and Tiago Pereira won Sunday’s feature, the Tokyo City Cup, on Hard Aces.
Follow me on Twitter: @itsgood2beking