In case you hadn’t noticed, jockey Tyler Gaffalione is on an amazing roll as he continues his run as the top rider at Kentucky Downs and Churchill Downs, with his next stop Keeneland.
His latest feat occurred Sunday (Sept. 17) when he won five races — five in a row, no less! – capping off opening weekend at Churchill Downs. On Saturday (Sept. 16), Gaffalione won a pair of big-money races, the $400,000 Locust Grove (G3) aboard Search Results ($5.74 on a $2 win bet) and the $300,000 Louisville Thoroughbred Society aboard Bango ($4.32).
The just-turned 29-year-old from Davie, Florida, is working on yet another rider’s title at Churchill — he’d won eight in a row at one point — with this one during the current 14-day September meet that runs through Oct. 1.
An interesting note: His seven weekend winners came for seven different trainers. On Sunday, he rode winners for Hall of Famers Todd Pletcher (Mirabella, $4.70) and Steve Asmussen (Shogun Be Fast, $4.04, via a DQ of Orange Diablo), Brad Cox (Del Rayo, $2.46), Mike Maker (Invaluable, $5.02), and Ron Moquett (Trident, $8.84). On Saturday, his two winners are trained by Greg Foley (Bango) and Chad Brown (Search Results).
On Sept. 13, Gaffalione wrapped up his second straight and third overall riding title at Kentucky Downs, a two-hour drive south of Louisville. He rode three winners on the day to end the lucrative, seven-day meet with 12 wins from 71 starters and earnings of $2.4 million.
Among his wins at Kentucky Downs were the $1 million Music City Stakes with Secret Money ($12.98) on Sept. 2 and the $500,000 Global Tote Juvenile Fillies with Austere ($10.04) on Sept. 10. Both are trained by Brendan Walsh.
“It’s amazing,” Gaffalione said after taking his third overall Kentucky Downs riding title. “It was very competitive this year. It’s world-class racing, and we enjoy being out there.”
Gaffalione, who enjoyed his best season in 2022, is on target to have an even better 2023, his 10th year of riding. He posted career win 2,000 on Jan. 20, at Gulfstream Park, his home track.
A year ago, Gaffalione rode 265 winners with total purse earnings of $27, 368,735 (fourth in the nation behind Irad Ortiz, Jr., Flavien Prat, and Joel Rosario). Through Sept. 19, he ranks second in earnings with $21,165,229, about $6.5 million behind Ortiz. He had five mounts on Wednesday’s (Sept. 20) card at Churchill.
His top horses include Pretty Mischievous, a three-time Grade 1 winner (Kentucky Oaks, Acorn, Test), and the 2-1 morning-line favorite in Saturday’s $1 million Cotillion (G1) at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and Gunite, Forego (G1) winner and 2-1 favorite in the Park Dirt Mile on the undercard.
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.