It’s time for another weekly jockey review, analyzing which riders are in peak form at their respective circuits. Key Kentucky Derby preps were contested at Aqueduct, Gulfstream and Santa Anita last week, so that’s where most of the attention will be focused.
Manny Franco was able to squeeze in five wins during a three-day racing week at “The Big A.” That was good enough to help extend his lead over Junior Alvarado, 51-43. The highlight of Franco’s week was a score in Sunday’s Busanda Stakes atop Always Shopping.
Alvarado won four times last week, including Saturday’s Withers Stakes with favored Tax. That three-year-old colt could make one more start in March before running in the Wood Memorial in April.
Dylan Davis and Reylu Gutierrez are currently engaged in a heated battle for third, with Davis holding a narrow 31-30 edge. The former won thrice last week while the latter struck four times.
Jose Lezcano, fifth with 26 victories at the meet, tallied three wins on the week and placed in both the Withers (Our Braintrust) and Busanda (Filly Joel).
Luis Saez won seven races at Gulfstream last week, including Sunday’s Dania Beach (A Thread of Blue), but saw his lead over Irad Ortiz Jr. diminish. Ortiz Jr. won 12 times in the same span to cut the deficit down to 13 (77-64). Among his many strikes last week was a pair of Grade IIIs on Saturday. Ortiz Jr. took the Forward Gal (Feedback) and Swale (Call Paul).
Jose Ortiz made seven trips to the winner’s circle at Gulfstream and seized third place from the suspended Paco Lopez, 39-38. Lopez was handed a 30-day ban by the stewards in the wake of a racing accident on Jan. 31 which resulted in injuries to jockeys Romero Maragh and Carlos Montalvo.
Brian Hernandez Jr. is quietly having a solid meet, tallying 13 winners from 124 starters. He pulled off a stunning upset in Saturday’s Holy Bull atop Harvey Wallbanger.
Flavien Prat and Joel Rosario continued their reign at the Santa Anita meet even as torrential rain took a toll on the track. Each rider won four times in the week that was, so Prat maintained his five-win lead. He was only jockey of the pair to record a stakes victory, upsetting Saturday’s San Pasqual (Battle of Midway).
Joe Talamo has been slumping since mid-January, but he did manage to win the Robert B. Lewis atop Mucho Gusto, earning that Baffert trainee 10 Kentucky Derby points.
Follow me on Twitter: @itsgood2beking