By Jim Freer
Gulfstream Park will resume its summer meet on Thursday with a ten-race card and first post of 1:00 p.m.
It will be the 21st day of the 60-day summer meet that will end on Oct. 2.
And one of the biggest questions at Gulfstream this summer is whether Tyler Gaffalione can maintain his margin in wins over Emisael Jaramillo in the jockey standings.
Gaffalione heads into Thursday with a 34-24 lead in wins over Jaramillo. Luca Panici is next with 20 victories. Cornelio Velasquez and Eddie Castro each have 14 and are tied for fourth place.
Gaffalione led Jaramillo by a 34-18 margin heading into last Thursday’s four-day race week.
Gaffalione did not ride at Gulfstream or any other track on Thursday through Saturday.
According to his Facebook page, he and other family members were in Tennessee to be with his sister who was injured in an auto accident.
Her car reportedly was struck by a drunk driver, and she reportedly is in stable condition.
Jaramillo rode a total of six winners at Gulfstream last Thursday, Friday and Sunday. He was at Saratoga Race Course last Saturday, riding Delta Bluesman to a fourth place finish in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes (Grade 1).
On July 2 at Gulfstream, Jaramillo rode Delta Bluesman to a win in the Smile Sprint (Grade 2).
Gaffalione was scheduled to make his Saratoga debut last Wednesday July 27 on Doctor J Dub in a 5 ½ furlong turf allowance. But he was in Tennessee.
Trainer Jena Antonucci shipped Doctor J Dub in from Gulfstream, and that horse’s regular rider Gaffalione was scheduled to fly in for the ride. Instead, Florent Geroux rode Doctor J Dub, who finished sixth in a nine-horse field.
On July 2 at Gulfstream, Gaffalione rode Doctor J Dub in his victory in the five-furlong Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint.
Numerous observers expect that as soon as next year Jaramillo and/or Gaffalione could be riding the Saratoga-Belmont-Aqueduct circuit in New York from spring to fall while still riding at Gulfstream during its championship meet this winter.
Meanwhile, both riders have busy days ahead at Gulfstream this weekend.
Gaffalione has seven mounts on Thursday, nine on Friday and eleven on Saturday. Jaramillo has five mounts on Thursday, seven on Friday and eleven on Saturday.
On Saturday, Gulfstream has twelve races including the first legs of the four divisions of the Florida Sire Stakes Series.
Gaffalione is a native of Davie, Fla. He led jockeys in wins at last year’s Gulfstream summer meet while he still had a five-pound apprentice allowance. He was voted the winner of the 2015 Eclipse Award as leading Apprentice Jockey.
Last year, he became known as the go-to rider for trainer Ralph Nicks—and is now in high demand.
On Saturday, he has rides from eight trainers. That list includes David Fawkes, Kathleen O’Connell, Stan Gold and Mark Casse.
Jaramillo led jockeys in wins in Venezuela for several years before he began riding in South Florida last year.
He started mostly with mounts for prominent trainers from Venezuela, such as Antonio Sano and Gustavo Delgado.
Over the next three days he also has rides from Peter Walder, Marty Wolfson, Ralph Ziadie and Mike Maker among other prominent trainers.
Jaramillo led jockeys in wins at this year’s Gulfstream spring meet.
As would be expected, Gaffalione and Jaramillo have many mounts that are favorites—and their presence often drives odds even lower on those horses.
*Heading into Thursday, Fawkes leads the summer meet trainer standings with ten wins. Sano is second with nine victories, followed by Nicks with eight victories.
Gelfenstein Farms leads owners with five wins. Frank Carl Calabrese, Grupo 7C Racing and Crossed Sabres Farm have four victories apiece and are tied for second place