Lopez Rides Five Stakes Winners Saturday At Gulfstream West
Paco Lopez kicked off a banner day at Gulfstream Park West Saturday with a perfectly executed victory aboard Galleon Mast in the $75,000 Millions Turf Preview.
Lopez, who rode Roy H. to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs a week earlier, went on to win four more stakes on the Millions Preview card of nine stakes worth $675,000 in purses.
The 33-year-old jockey certainly was on his game for the Turf Preview, executing a perfectly game plan for getting 8-5 favorite back to the winner’s circle after a series of hard-luck close calls.
“He told me coming out of the paddock, ‘No one’s going to want the lead except the [Clash and Cash] and [Swagger Jagger]. I’m going to stay right behind them,’” trainer David Fawkes said. “I said, ‘Ride your race. Warm him up good and remember that when he gets the lead he tends to wait.”
Everything went according to plan. Lopez position Galleon Mast directly behind pacesetter Clash and Clash and stalker Swagger Jagger around the first turn and along the backstretch. Although he lacked room on the turn into the homestretch and in the early stretch, Lopez found room to leave the inside in mid-stretch and Galleon Mast kicked in to score a last-ditch nose victory over a game Clash and Cash.
“I was close and waited and waited. In the stretch, I came too close to the rail and he got a little scared and jumped a little bit, but he came back and got it at the wire,” said Lopez, who went on score victories aboard Kroy in the Sprint Preview, Mr. Jordan in the Classic Preview, Lovesick in the Juvenile Fillies Sprint and Vow to Recover in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Class and Clash finished 2 ¾-lengths ahead of Archer Road,
Galleon Mast, who has been first or second in 19 of 29 starts with five third-place finishes, had gone winless in six starts since winning the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream in January while finishing second five times. Most recently, he most recently finished second behind Archer Road in the Mr. Steele Stakes at Gulfstream after a very troubled trip.
“He finally got a good trip. It’s frustrating. I left a lot of money on the track,” Fawkes said. “He’s had some tough trips, so Paco is staying on him now.”
Two races later, P. & G. Stables’ Picara registered a 1 ¾-length triumph in the $75,000 Filly & Mare Turf Preview under jockey Edgard Zayas.
The Todd Pletcher-trained 3-year-old filly was in command throughout the 7 ½-furlong race, setting fractions of 24.34, 49,04 and 1:12.78 for six furlongs on her way to a final clocking of 1:30.28.
Picara had prepped for the Filly & Mare Turf Preview with a two-length optional claiming allowance victory Oct. 14 at Gulfstream Park West in her second start since being transferred to Pletcher. The daughter of With Distinction has won all three of her starts over the Gulfstream Park West turf course.
Southern Sis finished second under Luca Panici, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Warranty and Lopez.