Paco Lopez Makes Successful Return To Gulfstream After Clasico Del Caribe Win In Venezuela

Paco Lopez rode Smart Spending for a victory in Wednesday’s Gulfstream Park opener in his first ride back from a successful weekend trip to Venezuela.

Lopez rode Mexican-bred Iniesta to a win in the $500,000 Clasico del Caribe at La Rinconada.

“It was my first time riding in Venezuela. I got the offer from Mexico to ride what looked like the best horse in the race,” Lopez said. “There were 30,000 people screaming. It was fun for all of us jockeys,”

Lopez ventured from Gulfstream to Venezuela for Sunday’s multi-race Clasico Internacional del Caribe, along with Irad Ortiz Jr., Jose Ortiz, Emisael Jaramillo and Miguel Vasquez.

Irad and Jose Ortiz, who enjoyed success in the Clasico event for Caribbean horses when it was hosted by Gulfstream for three renewals, also rode in Venezuela for the first time. Both were winners Sunday, Irad on Templario in the Invitacional del Caribe and on Sharapova in the Copa Confraternidad del Caribe, and Jose on Futuro in the Copa Velocidad del Caribe.

“It’s crazy there. The people there support the sport there, big time. When you’re over there, a jockey is like a baseball player,” Irad Ortiz Jr. said Wednesday.