A funny thing happened early yesterday, as Rob Murphy – my great friend and bloodstock guru – and I were trading text messages back and forth. The conversation turned toward rider Tyler Gaffalione, who is a regular jockey in the South Florida rider’s colony and was scheduled to ride a 14-race card on Tuesday.
I wrote to Rob: “We should be Tyler Gaffalione’s agent. That kid can ride. Should be in a bigger market.”
Murph, always the wordy wordsmith, replied: “True. He would find out quickly how good he is, or isn’t.”
I, on the other hand, who have made a living a time or two being paid by the word, returned with this: “He holds his own in the winter/spring when all are at GP. I’m thinking CA.”
Murph, obviously doing something else far more important and just appeasing me with idle chit chat, returned with this: “Mike Smith is a superstar out there.”
I, on the other hand had nothing better to do, and immediately wrote: “He (Gaffalione) is better than the rest, though. Smith is the best.”
Little did we know at the time that that conversation was a bit prophetic. Little did we know that Gaffalione would let his riding on the 4th of July speak volumes about his skill set. Little did we know that we should have been over at TwinSpires making a few wagers on the rider.
By about the time it took me to recant that story for you, Tyloer Gaffalione rode 7 winners at Gulfstream Park on the 4th of July.
That ties the Gulfstream track record first set by Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey. Bailey rode 7 winners on March 11, 1995 on the Florida Derby Day card, missing an 8th trip to the circle when Suave Prospect came up a nose short of winner Thunder Gulch in the G1 Florida Derby.
Gaffalione, who was born six months after Bailey’s record-setting performance, won the first three races at GP on Tuesday. His victory mates were Break Away, Poopsie Doopsie and the fine filly Adorable Miss in the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes.
On a date that we celebrate our country’s history, Gaffalione was just beginning to make history. The 22-year-old came back to win with Perfect Tay in the 5th race, Sambrook Edge in the 7th race, Isum Money in the 8th race, and Stormin Charlotte in the ninth.
And, to imagine even more, it could have been even better. And, it almost was. In his other four mounts on the day, Gaffalione had two seconds and two thirds.
“It is amazing,” said Gaffalione, who was quoted by the Gulfstream Park media team for their website (www.gulfstreampark.com). “I grew up idolizing Jerry Bailey. I copied basically everything he did. Between him and my father, they’re my two biggest influences.”
Tyler’s father, Steve Gaffalione, rode nearly 900 winners during his career, which extended from 1978 to 1998.
“This is such an honor. I can’t thank everyone enough, my agent (Matt Muzikar), all the trainers, the owners, the horses and everyone in the jock’s room for all their support.”
I guess since Mr. Muzikar did such a good job getting Tyler mounts, again, and Tyler seems to be quite content with the status quo, Murph and I will not be in line to pick up that agent’s job, afterall.
Still think California is the place he ought to be. Though. Just saying.
The Adventures of Adventist
Apparently, owner Jeff Treadway figures that the best Thoroughbred he could buy right now is the one in his own stable.
As such, Treadway has decided to withdraw Adventist – who was impressive in winning an allowance on the grass at Ellis Park on Tuesday – from the upcoming Fasig-Tipton sale next Monday.
And, the 4-year-old son of Any Given Saturday, will remain in the barn of trainer Mike Maker – at least for the time being.
“They had high hopes for him all along, and he’d been knd of an underachiever,” Maker told Ellis Park’s newest shinning star and PR director Jennie Rees. “They were hoping the surface change would kind of turn him around…We finally got the performance we were expecting. Maybe he’s just a true miler.”
There was good reason for Treadway and company to get excited about Adventist. After all he won his first start by 111/4 lengths and then was third in the Withers, Gotham and Wood Memorial. Not too shabby.
After skipping the Kentucky Derby, Adventist went on to run fourth in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park and second in the Ohio Derby before things began to fall apart for him. He ran a disappointing 7th in the West Virginia Derby and then two subsequent allowance races.
It was a time for a change. First, Treadway sent the colt to Maker at Gulfstream Park. Second, Adventist went from strictly a dirt horse to a new career on the grass. Third, Adventist went from being on the chopping block and in the sales ring, to having another career.
By the way, he was one of our top selections in our “Handicapping Corner” yesterday, as well.
Fort Wise Treaty Impressive
Fort Wise Treaty, another top selection in our Ellis Park Picks yesterday, was very impressive in his career debut on the grass during the festive 4th of July card at Ellis Park.
The Fort Larned colt, who was purchased for $170,000 at the OBS April 2YO Sale by owner Mark Breen, rallied from off the pace to capture the 1-mile turf event for 2YOS by a neck.
It marks the first winner for the Adena Springs stallion Fort Larned, who won the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita for trainer, and our good friend, Ian Wilkes. There is a green sign on Wilkes’ barn at Churchill Downs honoring the race accomplishments of Fort Larned.
“He ran great; he had a great ride. I can tell you that,” said Fort Wise Treaty trainer Brad Cox, when contacted by Rees. “The intent was to start short on dirt but he just wasn’t giving it to us in the mornings like we were looking for. We thought maybe we’d run him long on the turf and maybe he’d be a little more competitive. And, that seemed to work. He got a great trip. Obviously, the horse who was second looks like a really nice horse and had a wide trip. I sure don’t want to run against him next time. But it was a good effort. I was proud of the horse.”
The unlucky individual that Cox spoke of was none other than Eclipsed Moon, trained by Kenny McPeek. The colt broke last of 12 and had to go extremely wide throughout much of the race, including the final turn when he was swung nearly 6-wide. He is definitely one to watch running back.
“He’s a nice colt. He didn’t break well, so I gave him a good experience. I had to go wide because they were like quails out there, those 2YOs stopping. They were all over the place,” said jockey Robby Albarado. “I didn’t want to get him stopped, especially a big horse. He ran well. The top two horses are nice horses. That was a good showing first time out.”
It Tiz Well Entered to Run in Delaware Oaks
This just in:
It Tiz Well, one of the top rated 3YO fillies in the country earlier this year before running a distant third in the Santa Anita Oaks behind the ultra-impressive Paradise Woods and eventual Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman, has been entered to run in the Delaware Oaks this coming Saturday.
This filly started to make a name for herself when she ran second in the G2 Santa Ynez Stakes in January behind her stablemate, Unique Bella – who many claimed was he second coming of the great Songbird.
Unique Bella was so dominating, in fact, that many “so called experts” openly called for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer to run her against the colts in the Santa Anita Derby, and, ultimately, the Kentucky Derby.
But sore shins sidelined Unique Bella, and It Tiz Well appeared to be the next in line to step up. And, she stepped up and fast in winning the G3 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn in March.
But since, It Tiz Well has stepped back – finishing third in the Santa Anita Oaks and then a very troubled fourth in the G2 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita on June 17. In that debacle, It Tiz Well pulled hard throughout the early going and was steadied going into the first turn; steadied again on the backstretch; and was steadied a third time in the turn for home.
It will be interesting to watch this filly’s return to the races. And, hopefully, to the top of her game.