Antonio GallardoAntonio Gallardo won five races Saturday, including Tampa’s Sandpiper Stakes for 2-year-old filles, to be named the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week. The title goes to the week’s outstanding jockey in the opinion of a panel of industry experts. They looked at races run from December 1-7.

Overall for the week, Gallardo won 10 races with one second and two thirds from 22 starts, earning $177,402. The average payoff on his winning mutuel tickets was $7.30.

In the inaugural running of the Sandpiper Stakes, he rode R Sassy Lass to a half-length win over Coco’s Wildcat as the second favorite in the $100,000 six-furlong race for Florida-breds. Gallardo had nine mounts for the day, and got five of them home in front.

“When you’re hot, you can win whatever,” he said. “I’ve had a great year. I’ve won a lot of races. I feel comfortable with me (and) my agent (Mike Moran) giving me good horses.”

Nine of Tampa Bay’s 10 races were for 2-year-olds Saturday, but this wasn’t the first time Gallardo has shined with juveniles. In August 2013, he won four out of six stakes carded for Calder’s Juvenile Showcase. That set a new record at Calder for stakes wins in one day.

“I’m so happy,” he said at the time. “You feel good because you see your hard work coming together.”

The 27-year-old won his first race in 2003 at Costa del Sol in his native Spain. He came to the United States in 2008 and began riding full-time in the USA in 2009.

In 2012, he won 42 races from 383 starts for earnings of $844,778. He’s already notched up 246 wins worth $4.3 million this year, and is currently ranked eighth nationally by number of winners.

“When I came here everybody asked, ‘Where are you from?’ When you say ‘Spain,’ everybody looks at you and says, ‘Spain? Spain has races?'” he said. “There is not enough recognition (for jockeys from Spain) so they are scared to come. It is very difficult.”

Gallardo has overcome the difficulties, and is currently ranked on top of Tampa Bay’s standings for both wins and earnings.

JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, the Jockeys’ Guild, the Paulick Report, the Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.