2017 Breakthrough Jockey of the Year – Tyler Gaffalione

Tyler Gaffalione — the 2015 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice rider who this year stamped himself as a major player on the national scene — is the recipient of JockeyTalk360.com‘s 2017 Breakthrough Jockey of the Year Award, presented by Betfair/TVG.

Photo: Gulfstream Park

The 23-year-old Gaffalione had truly a breakthrough season, winning 271 races —  including 20 stakes — and more than $10.28 million in purses with a month still left in 2017.

“Tyler has obviously had an amazing year,” Lowich said. “He has proven himself to be one of the top riders in the country and it’s a privilege for Betfair/TVG to be able to present him with this award.”

Gaffalione had a fine post-apprenticeship year in 2016 with 208 victories and almost $6.5 million in purse earnings. But this year he made the significant leap to becoming a top rider outside what has been a year-round Florida base, riding two days a week at Saratoga and the five-day Kentucky Downs meet (winning a pair of $150,000 stakes) while still winning the Gulfstream Park summer-fall riding title.  His five graded-stakes victories include the Fair Grounds’ Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Memorial with Enterprising, Turfway Park’s $500,000 Jack Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes (G3) on Fast and Accurate and Belmont’s Matron Stakes (G3) on Happy Like a Fool.

2016 Breakthrough Jockey of the Year – Flavien Prat

Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup

Flavien Prat joined the ranks of racing’s elite riders with 165 wins — seven in Grade I races — and more than $12.8 million in purses through Dec. 8 during a season that included his first Breeders’ Cup victory aboard Obviously in the Turf Sprint. The French-born Prat shattered his big 2015 season, when his 85 wins and $5.2 million in purses stamped him as a jockey to watch. Prat’s 14 graded-stakes victories included Grade I scores aboard Lord Nelson (two), Avenge, Taris, The Pizza Man and Illuminant, as well as important triumphs on Hoppertunity, Bolo, Vyjack, Shane’s Girlfriend, Rocket Heat and Dreamologist as his burgeoning business sent him around the country and Canada from his Southern California base.

“This is an honor, and I’m very proud to be recognized by JockeyTalk360,” Prat said. “Thanks to all those that helped me with my success, thanks to the voters for this great award.”

2015 Breakthrough Jockey of the Year – Florent Geroux

Geroux gave the voting panel of experts an impressive set of statistics to consider in their decision. The 29 year old native of France improved upon his ranking as the 62ndleading rider in wins in 2014 with 143 victories to a total of 175 wins in 2015, moving him up to 32nd place for that category. He made even greater strides in total earnings with his best year ever. In 2015 he earned $10,233,677, an increase of $4,407,646 from 2014.

The majority of that increase came from his impressive stakes earnings in 2015. Geroux won a total of 27 stakes including the Arlington Million, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.  The native of France was exceptional on the turf all season winning some of the year’s biggest races on the grass and capturing the riding title at the short but lucrative all grass meeting at Kentucky Downs by a wide margin.

“It’s an honor to win this award,” said Geroux. “I really want to thank all the owners and trainers who gave me an opportunity to ride this season, not to mention the exceptional horses that ran so well for me. They were the ones that made this possible and made for such an exceptional year. My agent, Doug Bredar, and I worked hard all year and now looking back after the big wins and awards like this it seems like the hard work clearly paid off.”