It’s time to review the week that was in thoroughbred racing, recapping jockey performances at Aqueduct, Gulfstream and Santa Anita. See who is gaining momentum as Kentucky Derby prep season heats up.
Manny Franco is starting to distance himself from the competition at “The Big A.” After a nine-win week, he boosted his meet total to 69 victories. The leading rider in 2018 at NYRA is now 15 wins ahead of Junior Alvarado, who won just twice last week.
Jose Lezcano, riding at a robust 23 percent clip, won four races last week to tie Dylan Davis for third at the meet (41).
Rajiv Maragh recorded a grand slam last week, highlighted by a score in Saturday’s Franklin Square (Stonesintheroad). He’s seventh in the jockey standings at 24 tallies.
Irad Ortiz Jr. became the first jockey to reach the century mark at the Gulfstream winter meet, ending this stanza at 106 victories. He visited the winner’s circle 13 times last week, with one of those coming in the Texas Glitter Stakes (Yes I Am Free). Ortiz Jr.’s 25 percent win rate catches the eye.
Luis Saez is still under suspension, so he remains stuck in second at 84 wins. Jose Ortiz remains a distant third at 59 scores for the meet, even as he matched his brother’s 13 triumphs.
John Velazquez isn’t really competing for leading rider, but he took down four races at Gulfstream last week, including the Grade III Hal’s Hope with the much-the-best Prince Lucky.
The match race between Joel Rosario and Flavien Prat continues, as each won five times during the three-day racing week. Rosario remains in front, 44-41, but Prat scored in the weekend’s biggest event, the Grade II Buena Vista, atop Vasilika.
Mike Smith hit the board in all five starts last week, winning twice. Despite riding far fewer times than most in this colony, Smith is only trailing Heriberto Figueroa 22-20 for third.
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