Jockey Paco Lopez entered the final weekend of the Fall Turf Festival with a five-win lead in the race for the riding title.
Heading into Saturday’s nine-race card, Lopez was ahead of apprentice Cristian Torres, 35-32, with Emisael Jaramillo sitting third at 29. Torres needed stitches in his lower lip following a spill out of the gate in Friday’s opener, replaced on his mounts the rest of the day and Saturday.
Torres, the country’s second-leading apprentice by wins who rides with a five-pound weight allowance, ranks first among all jockeys with $793,797 in purses earned. Lopez is second at $766,402 with Edgard Zayas third at $759,679.
Zayas had 28 wins, good for fourth in the standings, before being injured in a spill out of the gate in Wednesday’s third race. The defending Fall Turf Festival champion who won both the spring and summer meet titles at Gulfstream Park, Zayas is expected to miss four weeks with a broken left index finger.
Lopez finished as the leading rider at the Monmouth Park meet which ended Oct. 27, 109-107, over Nik Juarez. On Nov. 9, Lopez won four races, three of them stakes, on the Millions Preview Day card at Gulfstream West – the Turf on Galleon Mast, the Sprint on Travy Boy, and Juvenile Sprint on As Seen On Tv.
Defending champion Saffie Joseph Jr. has wrapped up his second straight Fall Turf Festival trainer’s title with 21 wins entering Saturday’s card, 13 more than runners-up Victor Barboza Jr. and Jorge Navarro. David Fawkes, Rohan Crichton and Eddie Plesa Jr. were all tied at seven wins.
Joseph also ranked first with $415,489 in purses won, leading Fawkes ($201,003). In 2018, Joseph edged Barboza, 15-13, for the Gulfstream West title.