Graham Holds Onto Slim Lead in Ellis Park Jockey’s Race

(Trainer Tom Amoss and rider James Graham teamed up for a solid Winter/Spring at the Fair Grounds / Photo Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)

Before this meet ever began, Ellis Park officials bragged about the quality and the quantity of talent that would be occupying the jockey’s room for the hot summer meet along the river banks.

They named names.

They touted their games.

They pledged the best racing and riders in the history of the historic meet.

Now, with just a couple of weeks left in the meet, the riders are certainly doing their respective bests to make up on that pre-meet promise.

After Sunday’s races were all completed, there were four riders within 3 wins of  each other for the title of the meet’s leading rider. In other words? You could throw a horse blanket over all four of them.

Going into this Friday’s racing, James Graham — who is having a fantastic 2019 — holds a slim 1-win lead in one of the hottest contested races of the meet, so far. After 111 rides so far, Graham has totaled 16 wins, 21 seconds and 17 thirds. His horses have earned over $578,000 in purse money.

Just one win back, and tied for second in the standings, are Corey Lanerie and Tyler Baze — who both tallied 15 wins so far. Lanerie has a 15-16-8 record in just 77 rides, while Baze — the California transplant — has a 15-16-14 mark in 120 rides so far.

Two wins farther back, and alone in fourth, is Miguel Mena. He has 13 wins, 15 seconds and 7 thirds in 101 rides, and is still within striking range of the title, too.

It is sure to make for exciting races. Both for the horses, and the riders

Here’s a closer look at the Top 25 riders this meet:

1James Graham111162117$578,30014%5449%
2Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.8711911$518,52013%3136%
3Corey J. Lanerie7715168$517,95819%3951%
4Tyler Baze120151614$499,25613%4538%
5Miguel Mena10113157$483,21713%3535%
6Florent Geroux381129$429,01229%2258%
7Shaun Bridgmohan21653$272,73029%1467%
8Declan Carroll65987$260,86914%2437%
9Gabriel Saez504117$249,9288%2244%
10Adam Beschizza51456$222,3328%1529%
11Calvin H. Borel51678$221,15212%2141%
12David Cohen73101012$219,70714%3244%
13Rayan Gazader63889$211,85813%2540%
14Declan Cannon515510$189,53410%2039%
15Edgar Morales67465$159,4616%1522%
16Channing Hill29530$137,48817%828%
17Martin Chuan16524$134,65531%1169%
18Chantal Sutherland48534$134,30310%1225%
19Joseph Rocco, Jr.40527$119,47813%1435%
20Jesus Lopez Castanon16323$113,17319%850%
21Jack Gilligan48525$111,18210%1225%
22Jon Kenton Court49333$89,2526%918%
23Tyler Gaffalione6111$77,83017%350%
24Chris Landeros3300$74,400100%3100%
25Julien R. Leparoux4101$40,15025%250%

(Standings Courtesy of Equibase)

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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