It’s time to recap the horse racing action from the extended holiday week that featured two Kentucky Derby preps. We’ll make stops across the country highlighting some of the best jockey performances over the last few days.
It was a mostly quiet week for Manny Franco, as he won just twice at Aqueduct and was shut out at the Fair Grounds on Saturday. However, he maintains a 60-52 lead over Junior Alvarado. The latter had a much stronger stanza, winning seven races in all, including a Friday grand slam. Alvarado capped off the week with a win in the Hollie Hughes atop Bavaro on Monday.
Dylan Davis won thrice to stay just ahead of the surging Jose Lezcano, 39-37. Lezcano put forth a seven-win performance that featured scores in the Broadway (Holiday Disguise) and Haynesfield (Honor Up).
Irad Ortiz Jr. didn’t just inherit the lead from the idle Luis Saez last week, he took it by storm. Ortiz Jr. won an eye-popping 22 races during a six-day stanza and took the only graded stakes that was held, the Grade III Royal Delta, atop Blamed. The victories came in bunches, as he won four in a row on Wednesday, and six out of 12 starts on Presidents Day. Ortiz Jr. now leads the suspended Saez 93-84.
Emisael Jaramillo, fifth at 42 victories, won eight times last week. That included an allowance prep for the Dubai Golden Shaheen (Mar. 30) atop X Y Jet.
Joel Rosario swooped by Flavien Prat on the strength of an 11-win week at “The Great Race Place.” That included scores in the Wishing Well (Belvoir Bay) and Cal Cup Oaks (Mucho Unusual). Prat won seven times, including the Cal Cup Derby atop a much-the-best Galilean, but finds himself down 39-36.
Drayden Van Dyke is laboring behind at just 16 wins for the meet after a very slow start, but he’s boosted his win rate to 15 percent. He won three races last week, including the Grade II Santa Monica atop Marley’s Freedom.
Ricardo Santana Jr. won eight races at Oaklawn over the holiday week to become the first rider to top 20 victories at the meet. Among the highlights was his Grade III Bayakoa score with She’s a Julie.
Despite the presence of some big names like John Velazquez and Jose Ortiz, it was Terry Thompson and Super Steed that sprung a 62-1 upset in Monday’s featured Southwest Stakes. Thompson’s bold, sweeping move on the far turn is arguably what helped him win that race.
Over at the Fair Grounds, the invading Tyler Gaffalione was the only rider to record multiple stakes victories on Saturday. He was aboard Chaos Theory in the Colonel Power, and War of Will in the Risen Star. War of Will is now the Kentucky Derby points leader (60), virtually assuring Gaffalione a spot in the starting gate in the “Run for the Roses.”
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