Most of thoroughbred racing’s preeminent winter meetings rolled on last week, with Santa Anita being a notable exception. Fortunately for fans and horsemen, “The Great Race Place” is tentatively scheduled to re-open on Mar. 22. Let’s go over the results from last week, paying close attention to racing from New York and Florida.
Manny Franco continues to hold a commanding lead on second-place Junior Alvarado, 81-63. After consecutive riding doubles on Friday and Saturday, Franco broke out for five wins on Sunday, including the featured Heavenly Prize Invitational (Divine Miss Grey). Alvarado, narrowly beaten aboard Split Time in the Heavenly Prize, won four races in all last week.
Jose Lezcano, trailing Dylan Davis by one (49-48) for third, was a perfect 3-for-3 on Friday and added another score on Sunday. Three of those wins were for meet-leading trainer Linda Rice.
Reylu Gutierrez, fifth with 42 victories on the meet, won his first ever graded stake on Saturday, taking the Grade III Tom Fool aboard Do Share. Eric Cancel, sixth with 35 tallies, won thrice last week, with the highlight being Saturday’s Busher Stakes (Espresso Shot).
Rajiv Maragh, seventh with 25 scores, was mostly quiet last week but did take Saturday’s featured Gotham Stakes aboard Haikal in a heart-stopping stretch run.
Irad Ortiz Jr. competed at Gulfstream only four days last week, but he still managed 10 triumphs. He was at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, taking the Columbia (Digital Age) and Hillsborough Stakes (Rymska). Chad Brown conditioned both winners. Luis Saez fell two wins further behind Ortiz Jr., and now trails the 26-year-old rider 123-98.
Paco Lopez returned after a lengthy suspension and secured a nine-win week. Chief among those scores was Saturday’s Silks Run Stakes atop Imprimus. At 47 wins for the meet, Lopez is sixth but well behind the leaders.
Some of Gulfstream’s top jockeys were more successful elsewhere last Saturday. Jose Ortiz took Tampa’s Challenger Stakes with Flameaway before seizing the main event, the Tampa Bay Derby, with Tacitus. Tyler Gaffalione, riding exclusively for Mike Maker, was at Turfway Park on Saturday. He won two races, including the featured Jeff Ruby Steaks atop Somelikeithotbrown.
Joel Rosario, currently the leading jockey at the suspended Santa Anita meet, is moving his tack to Gulfstream until the start of Keeneland’s spring meet in April. Fourth by earnings in 2019, Rosario expected to ride Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ Game Winner in Saturday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn.