In spite of some inclement weather on both coasts, there was plenty of racing action at Aqueduct and Santa Anita last week. And, of course, it was Fountain of Youth weekend at Gulfstream. Let’s start reviewing which jockeys were at their best.
Manny Franco remains in front at the Aqueduct winter meet with 72 victories. But he only won three times last week after taking Saturday off to race at Gulfstream. There, he won once and checked in third in the Fountain of Youth with Vekoma.
Junior Alvarado, second at 59 triumphs, found the wire first five times last week. He took the week’s only stake, Saturday’s inaugural Bernardini, atop Royal Albert Hall.
But the week’s winningest rider was Dylan Davis, who bagged six victories in total. A Sunday hat-trick brought him to 47 total tallies.
Irad Ortiz Jr. remains well in command at the Gulfstream meet following Fountain of Youth weekend. He added seven successes to his already-impressive total of 106, getting clear from Luis Saez, who is second at 90. Ortiz Jr. was a fast-closing second with Bourbon War in the feature event of the week behind John Velazquez and Code of Honor. But he would notch two stakes victories that day, taking The Very One (Holy Helena) and Mac Diarmida (Zulu Alpha).
Saez, not to be outdone, won three stakes during a six-win stanza, his first full one since being suspended earlier in February. He found the line first with A Thread of Blue in the Palm Beach before guiding Recruiting Ready to victory in the Gulfstream Park Sprint. Later on, he sprung a 51-1 upset aboard Jeltrin in the Davona Dale, beating heavily-favored Jaywalk.
Jose Ortiz, third with 67 wins at the meet, struck eight times in all, taking the Herecomesthebride (Cambier Parc) in the process.
John Velazquez improved upon what’s been a fairly quiet meet by his standards by taking the Canadian Turf (Krampus) and Fountain of Youth (Code of Honor) en route to a five-win performance. He’s eighth in the jockey standings (30) and is firing at 18 percent.
Joel Rosario was shut out on his Saturday trip to Gulfstream, but he made up for it on Sunday by hitting a grand slam, bringing his weekly total to seven at Santa Anita. Chief among those scores was Sunday’s Tiznow Stakes atop Edwards Going Left. He crept further away from Flavien Prat and now leads 51-46.
Prat lost several turf mounts to the rainy conditions but still managed five victories. He’s still the slightly better jockey by percentage (26 percent winners, 60 percent ITM to 25 percent winners and 58 percent ITM) and is well clear of the competition for second.
Tyler Baze won four times last week, including Saturday’s off-the-turf Pasadena (Stubbins), to remain within striking distance of third, which is currently held by three riders at 23 wins apiece (Mike Smith, Heriberto Figueroa and Geovanni Franco).
Santa Anita will be closed this week, and possibly beyond that, as officials continue to investigate the racing surface that has unfortunately yielded a spike in equine fatalities since December.
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