Oaklawn Park took most of the national attention last week with the split Rebel Stakes on Saturday, but there was also important racing going on at Aqueduct and Gulfstream. Let’s review the results here, noting which jockeys did best. We’ll also include an update on Santa Anita.
Manny Franco has all but wrapped up the Aqueduct winter meet title, as he took nine races last week to extend his lead over Junior Alvarado to 24 (90-66). Franco capped things off nicely with a four-win Sunday.
Alvarado, though he took just three races last week, made up for the lack of quantity with quality. He swept both the Correction (Startwithsilver) and Gander (Durkin’s Call) over the weekend.
With Irad Ortiz Jr. (123 wins) idle due to suspension, Luis Saez was able to close the gap from second significantly. He won 12 races over the five-day week to boost his meet total to 110. Saez was on favored Tequilita in the lone stake of the week, the Inside Information, but had to settle for third behind Paco Lopez and America’s Tale.
Tyler Gaffalione had a productive stanza, winning seven times and forging a tie with Jose Ortiz for third at 69 scores.
Mike Smith was the only jockey to win multiple stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn. He gave a great ride on Midnight Bisou to beat Elate in the Azeri before upsetting the second division of the Rebel (which featured Game Winner) atop Omaha Beach.
Local riders held their own in the other two stakes, as Jon Court (fourth at the meet, 15 wins) guided Long Range Toddy to victory in the first division of the Rebel, while Walter De La Cruz (11th, eight wins) and Rated R Superstar found the line first in the Essex Handicap.
As the Oaklawn meet reaches its halfway point, Ricardo Santana Jr. and David Cohen are locked in an interesting battle. After being shut out on Saturday, Santana Jr. struck four times on Sunday to best Cohen, who won three races scattered throughout the week. The former is now in front 37-35.
When Santa Anita makes its long-awaited return on Mar. 29, it will be without Tyler Baze. The former California meet winner has moved his tack to Oaklawn, planning to stay there until their meet ends on May 4.
Joel Rosario, the current leader at the suspended Santa Anita meet, previously announced that he was leaving in favor of Gulfstream Park. Eventually, he will shift his tack to Keeneland.
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