Keeneland Press Release
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione’s decision to spend his first full meet at Keeneland has rewarded the 24-year-old with 10 wins, including two graded stakes victories, to place him in a tie for second in the rider standings with three days remaining in the season. He leads all riders in earnings with $1,147,706.
Gaffalione, who is named to ride in 19 races over the next three days, is pleased with his success.
“My agent (Matt Muzikar) and I decided eight or nine (wins) would be a tremendous meet,” Gaffalione said.
His stakes wins came Oct. 7 in the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) on 23-1 longshot Next Shares and Oct. 20 in the $250,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2) on Shamrock Rose.
Gaffalione, a Florida native, has followed his father, Steve Gaffalione, and grandfather Bobby Gaffalione as jockeys. His grandfather competed in the 1984 Kentucky Derby aboard Rexson’s Hope, and 33 years later Tyler rode Patch in the race.
As a teenager, Gaffalione exercised racehorses before school and breezed 2-year-olds at sales. He competed in his first race on Sept. 5, 2014, at Gulfstream Park. Two days later, in his third career start, he won his first race. He received the 2015 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice.
Through Wednesday, Gaffalione had 956 wins and had ridden the earners of nearly $34.4 million in his career. He has 209 wins this year to rank sixth among leading North American jockeys. His earnings of $10.4 million are good for 11th place.
In the past, Gaffalione made occasional Keeneland appearances and scored his first win here during the 2016 Fall Meet. He added his second win during the 2017 Spring Meet and third win in the 2017 Fall Meet. Gaffalione decided to “take a shot” at riding here full time this October because of the quality of the racing and the chance for new opportunities.
He said Keeneland’s electric atmosphere sets the track apart from others.
“I really just like the whole feel of the place,” he said. “When you win a race here, you actually feel like you’ve accomplished something. (Fans at) other tracks don’t applaud as much, but here you can hear them even when you’re coming down the stretch. Sometimes I have to look outside because I think there’s another horse coming but it’s just the crowd being loud. It’s special, there’s always a huge crowd here and great fans.”
Gaffalione’s Breeders’ Cup mounts include Next Shares (Mile-G1) and Mind Your Biscuits (Classic-G1 or TwinSpires Sprint-G1). After the Churchill meet concludes, he will spend the winter at Gulfstream Park with a planned return to Keeneland for the 2019 Spring Meet.
“Absolutely, that’s our plan,” Gaffalione said. “I’m very excited to be here and love the racing.”