Weekly jockey review, 4/3/19; Franco, Ortiz Jr. secure meet titles

The horse racing calendar continues its transition from winter to spring, as Aqueduct and Gulfstream wrapped up their traditional meets, while Santa Anita got back underway on Friday. We’ll highlight notable jockey performances here.

Aqueduct

Manny Franco put the finishing touches on the Aqueduct winter meet title with a three-win week. All told, he amassed 98 victories, 28 better than runner-up Junior Alvarado.

Dylan Davis outlasted Jose Lezcano for third, 55-54, on the strength of a four-win week. He took a pair of Saturday’s starter stakes, namely the Dads Caps (Its All Relevant) and Stud Muffin (Turco Bravo). Lezcano scored in three races, including the Kelly Kip (H Man) and the More To Tell (Potomac).

Eric Cancel, sixth with 43 victories (three behind fifth-place Reylu Gutierrez), won three starter stakes on Saturday. He was aboard Archumybaby in the Videogenic, Bon Raison in the Peeping Tom, and No Deal in the Xtra Heat.

Racing at “The Big A” continues on Friday, which will be Day 1 of a brief 12-day spring meet. The feature is the Grade III Distaff Handicap. Aqueduct’s crown jewel, the Wood Memorial, will be run on Saturday.

Gulfstream

Irad Ortiz Jr. nosed out Luis Saez for the Gulfstream championship title, 135-134. Ortiz Jr. took down nine races in total, including four on Florida Derby day. The highlight of his week was his heart-stopping score in the Pan American Stakes atop Focus Group.

Saez also notched nine wins last week, though he took the week’s centerpiece event, the Florida Derby, atop Maximum Security.

Santa Anita

Racing finally resumed at “The Great Race Place” on Friday. Joel Rosario, who rode in Dubai for World Cup day on Saturday, flew back in time to guide Gypsy Blu to victory in the Irish O’Brien Stakes. Rosario, who plans to ride at the Keeneland meet that starts on Thursday, leads all jockeys with 52 winners.

Geovanni Franco, third behind the idle Flavien Prat at 25 victories, upset the Beholder Mile atop Secret Spice and won one other race last week. Tiago Pereira forged a tie with Franco on the strength of a three-win week, highlighted by his San Simeon score atop Law Abidin Citizen.

Rafael Bejarano won five races last week to boost his meet total to 24. He currently sits in fifth.

Drayden Van Dyke, tied with Tyler Baze at 21 wins apiece, brought home four winners last week. That included Saturday’s Santa Ana (Elysea’s World) and Sunday’s Sensational Star (Pee Wee Reese). Baze won just once last week, but he made it count as he took Friday’s San Luis Rey atop Epical.

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