(Tyler Gaffalione / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
Has anyone noticed that there has been a changing of the guard in Kentucky’s respective and collective jockey’s rooms?
Has anyone noticed that the last two major racing meets to be held in this Commonwealth — abbreviated ones at both Churchill Downs and Keeneland — that the top rider has not been named Lanerie; or Geroux, or Leparoux, or Hernandez, or Santana?
Has anyone noticed that there is a new name — with a heckuva “A” game — to take notice of?
As fast as the athletes themselves change silks, the title as this Commonwealth’s “Master Rider” may have shifted. As quick as it takes a Thoroughbred to change leads, Kentucky’s newest “Top Gun” may have changed names. As fast as it takes a bettor to claim foul and drop a losing ticket to the ground, Kentucky may have found a new “Go-To” rider.
In the Spring, Tyler Gaffalione won the rider title at Churchill Downs.
Last week, the young man did it again — winning the jockey’s title at Keeneland.
It isn’t clear if Gaffalione will stick in Kentucky this summer and ride at Ellis Park and wait for the action to return to Churchill Downs the first week in September. It isn’t clear if — some day in the future — if Gaffalione will take his tack and move on to the bright lights of Broadway or the sandy beaches of California.
What is clear, though, is that for right now Tyler Gaffalione may be the hottest thing to hit Kentucky since a 98-degree day in July.
Over 32 rides at Keeneland, Gaffalione tallied a resume of 7 wins, 3 seconds and 6 thirds. His horses won 22% of the time and they finished either first, second or third on 50% of the occasions. No other rider came close to having that many finishes “in the money.”
Both of those numbers are hot.
When the 5-day meet was all said and done, too, Gaffalione’s horses had combined to win a total of $673,338 in purse money. That’s an average of $21,041.81 per race.
And, when the first Keeneland summer meet was done? Every one watching knew that the “new” guy in town was riding a hot hand.
Here’s a look at the Top 25 riders for the meet:
|2||Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.||31||6||4||2||$620,587||19%||12||39%|
|5||Julien R. Leparoux||23||4||3||3||$312,440||17%||10||43%|
|6||Jose L. Ortiz||6||2||1||1||$263,764||33%||4||67%|
|7||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||28||3||4||1||$251,098||11%||8||29%|
|9||Corey J. Lanerie||29||2||5||5||$207,995||7%||12||41%|
|10||Mike E. Smith||5||0||2||0||$194,422||0%||2||40%|
|17||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||5||1||0||2||$60,850||20%||3||60%|
|19||John R. Velazquez||11||0||0||1||$52,120||0%||1||9%|
|20||Carlos A. Diaz||1||1||0||0||$42,000||100%||1||100%|
|21||Julio A. Garcia||2||0||1||1||$31,000||0%||2||100%|
(Stats compiled by Equibase)