By Jim Freer
The Gulfstream Park West meet will resume on Wednesday with Edgard Zayas holding a 21-20 wins lead over Tyler Gaffalione in the jockey standings, and with several big-name riders arriving from northern states.
Zayas rode seven winners and Gaffalione rode four winners during the five days between last Wednesday and Sunday.
Wednesday’s GP West card has eight races, with first post of 12:35 p.m. There are no stakes races. Five of the races are scheduled for turf.
Wednesday is the 22nd day of the 40-day meet being held at Calder Casino & Race Course.
Zayas (photo in preview to this story) has seven mounts Wednesday, eight mounts on Thursday’s ten-race card and eight mounts on Friday’s ten-race card. Gaffalione has two, five and eight mounts over the three days.
They have emerged as the two star riders for the April-to-November portion of the year-round racing that Gulfstream Park is holding in South Florida.
Gulfstream is conducting the meet it calls GP West at Calder, under a lease agreement with that track.
And the jockey colony is starting to take on the look of the 2015-2016 championship meet that will open at Gulfstream on Dec. 5.
The list of entries for the next three days shows South Florida winter regulars Paco Lopez and Joe Bravo with their first mounts of the GP West meet.
Both have Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., as their summer base and both are coming to Calder after riding in Breeders’ Cup races last weekend at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
Some other winter-time riders can be expected to arrive at GP West over the next several weeks,
Lopez and Bravo do not have time to threaten the leaders in the jockey standings. But both will no doubt have plenty of mounts and many fans will bet heavy on their horses–especially in turf races.
Antonio Gallardo began riding at GP West late last week and can be expected to remain until several days before Tampa Bay Downs opens its 2015-2016 meet on Nov. 28. He is the defending leading rider at that track, and he later led in wins at this year’s meet at Presque Isle Downs near Erie, Pa.
Through Tuesday, Gallardo has ridden 284 winners. According to Equibase, that puts him second in North America to Javier Castellano’s 292 victories.
Gallardo has no mounts at GP West on Wednesday, three on Thursday and five on Friday.
At GP West, Eddie Castro is third in wins with 15. Enisael Jaramillo and Matt Rispoli each have 13 and are tied for fourth place.
Zayas, a 22-year-old native of Puerto Rico, was the leading rider at the 2014 GP West meet. This year he finished third in wins at the Gulfstream spring meet and fourth in wins at the Gulfstream summer meet, despite missing several weeks of both meets with injuries.
Gaffalione is a 21-year-old South Florida native. He finished ninth last year at GP West. He led riders in wins at this year’s Gulfstream spring and summer meets.
Until this Oct. 11, Gaffalione had a five-pound weight allowance in non-stakes races. But despite the loss of “bug” status, he continues to get mounts from Ralph Nicks and several other leading GP West trainers.
* Marcus Vitali leads GP West trainers with nine wins, followed by Antonio Sano with seven.
Todd Pletcher is third, with six victories. Nicks, David Fawkes and Rodolfo Garcia each have five wins.
New York area racing is moving from Belmont Park to Aqueduct this week. That means that Pletcher will soon send more of his horses south to his winter base at Palm Beach Downs in Delray Beach.
Pletcher thus looms as a major contender for the GP West trainers’ title. He has led in wins each of the last 12 seasons at Gulfstream’s championship meet.
* On Saturday, GP West will have eight stakes races–all with $100,000 purses and all restricted to Florida breds. The official name of the program is “Millions Preview Day” because many of the horses are expected to race on Sunshine Millions day at Gulfstream on Jan. 16.
The fields and post positions will be announced on Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday morning on our blog, we will have reports from several trainers who plan to enter horses for Saturday