By Jim Freer
Tuesday, July 21 — Through Sunday’s races the familiar names Tyler Gaffalione, Eddie Castro and Edgard Zayas are in a tight battle in the jockey standings at Gulfstream Park’s summer meet.
After 12 race days the win count is Gaffalione (photo above) 13, Castro 12 and Zayas 11. Jose Caraballo and Harry Hernandez are tied for fourth with nine wins each.
All but Zayas will resume that rivalry Thursday, Gulfstream’s first day with its new later post time of 1:15 p.m. Gaffalione has eight mounts and Castro has six mounts on the nine-race card
Zayas will be sidelined for the next four to six weeks with a broken collarbone he suffered when tossed from his mount Lloyd Harbor in Friday’s ninth race at Gulfstream. That will undoubtedly take him out of the competition for most wins in the meet that began July 1 and will run through Oct. 3. He was the leading rider at last year’s Gulfstream summer meet.
Zayas’s absence this summer could make it hard for Castro or any of the others to catch Gaffalione, the 20-year-old apprentice jockey who is this year’s rising star at Gulfstream.
Gaffalione won the riders’ title for this year’s Gulfstream spring meet. He had 69 wins, followed by Castro with 47 and Zayas with 37. Zayas missed five weeks of that three-month meet with a broken right hand.
Our research indicates that Gaffalione will retain his five-pound apprentice allowance in non-stakes races through Oct. 10–the first anniversary of his fifth career win, That will be the fourth day of the 40-day Gulfstream Park West meet that Gulfstream is holding at Calder Casino & Race Course. Zayas led jockeys in wins at last year’s Gulfstream Park West meet.
Based on Gaffalione’s steady success and his already-established work ethic, it is likely that many of South Florida’s top year-round trainers and owners will continue to use him after he loses his five-pound bug.
Ralph Nicks, Peter Walder, Jose Garoffalo and Joe Orseno are among the trainers for whom Gaffalione will ride on Thursday. Gaffalione is a native of Broward County and is the son of retired jockey Steve Gaffalione.
Nicks leads summer meet trainers with six wins through Sunday. Stan Gold, Gustavo Delgado and Wesley Ward have five wins each and are tied for second place, Gold leads in earnings with $272,105 and Nicks is second with $238,200.
Jacks or Better Farm leads owners with five wins and $272,105. Jacks or Better’s numbers are the same as those for Gold because it uses him as its only trainer in South Florida and Gold has trained exclusively for Jacks or Better since 2006. Jacks or Better is in Ocala and is owned and operated by Fred and Jane Biei.
Luis Duco and Moshe Mark are tied for second among owners with three wins each. Frank Carl Calabrese has two wins. He led Gulfstream owners in wins at last year’s summer meet and at this year’s spring meet.