By Monique Welch
If you did not now who Edwin Gonzalez was before this past weekend, you no doubt know him now if you are a fan of Tampa Bay Downs.
On Saturday, the 25-year old jockey had a great day in spite of the unusual cloudy, windy weather at the Oldsmar, Fla., track.
Gonzalez racked up three wins in a row–adding to the big impact he is making during his first season at Tampa Bay.
Gonzalez, a native of Puerto Rico, spent the last three winters riding at Penn National in Wyomissing, Pa.
He added a Tampa Bay victory on Sunday, riding D’wild Kiss for trainer John Vinson in the third race.
Through Sunday, Gonzalez has 13 wins in 69 starts at Tampa Bay. That ties him with Fernando De La Cruz for fourth place in wins.
Daniel Centeno leads with 30, followed by Pablo Morales wih 18 and Ronald Allen Jr. with 16.
On Saturday, all of Gonzalez’s winners took early leads and were never headed. All three races were on the dirt track, listed as good.
His streak started with the fourth race with Mo Town Kat, a 4-year old filly trained by Ian Hemingway. They won at six furlongs in 1:14.02, beating My First Honey by 6 3/4 lengths,
In the next race he won with the favorite Rolin with Olin, a 4–year old gelding trained by Jamie Ness. Rolin with Olin won the 5 furlong race in 58.00 seconds, by 6 ½ lengths over Lucky Rascal.
Gonzalez took the sixth race as well, with Pink Mama trained by leading trainer Gerald S. Bennett. Pink Mama won by 6 ¼ lengths over Panoe, with a finish of 1:11.51 for six furlongs.
His biggest win at Tampa Bay was the $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes on Dec. 3, with 2-year old filly R Angel Katelyn who is trained by Bennett.
Gonzalez is looking forward to continuing to build his base of trainers who call on him to ride.
“My agent (Mike Moran) and I have been working hard to get noticed, and things are going great now,” he said on Saturday.
With results like those of Saturday, Gonzalez’s hard work is definitely getting noticed by horsemen, fellow jockeys and fans.
*In Saturday’s featured eighth race, Ruffolo held off a late rally by Hereditary and won by a half length.
The race was an allowance/optional claimer at one mile and 40 yards on dirt for 4-year-olds and up. The purse was $23,500 and the optional tag was $32,000.
(The race was the Lambholm South Race of the Week. The adjacent photo shows Tampa Bay Downs publicity writer Mike Henry making the presentation to Boyce and Gonzalez. Photo by Monique Welch.)
The 5-year-old gelding Ruffolo won in 1:41.81 with De La Cruz riding for trainer Michele Boyce. It was his second win in three career dirt starts at Tampa Bay.
Hereditary, a non-gelded 6-year old, was ridden by Jesus Castanon for trainer Shug McGaughey.
Ruffolo took the lead after six furlongs from Urban Cool, who wound up fifth. Herdeitary was eighth and last after a quarter-mile. He then steadily gained ground, but came up just short of victory.
Ruffolo was sent off at 7-1 and Hereditary was the 3-2 favorite. Hereditary was dropping down from a series of $62,500 optional claiming races at major tracks in New York. However, he did not hit the board in any of those races.