Gaffalione: ‘This meet is always on our radar’

Tyler Gaffalione/Coady Photography

FRANKLIN, Ky. (Sept. 13, 2022) — Jockey Tyler Gaffalione came to Kentucky Downs ready to go to work. He has certainly done that.

Gaffalione, who celebrated his 28th birthday Monday, is poised to win his second Kentucky Downs riding title in three years.

With two days left in the meet, Gaffalione has nine wins from 47 mounts. He is well equipped for more as he is named to ride in all nine races on Tuesday’s card (the completion of the Sunday card, which was postponed because of rain) and 11 of the 12 races on Wednesday.

“This meet is always definitely on our radar,” Gaffalione said. “We like to do well everywhere we go. We enjoy Kentucky Downs because it’s such a competitive meet and it’s so short and you race for such big prize money. Coming out of here with a successful meet means a lot.”

Gaffalione won his first Kentucky Downs meet in 2020 when he got to the winner’s circle 11 times. Last September, he was second with eight wins.

“Tyler rides that course very well – he rides very well everywhere,” said Matt Muzikar, Gaffalione’s agent. “He really likes that course.”

“I look forward to coming here every year,” Gaffalione said. “But, really, you have to have the horse. It depends on if the horse likes the course or not. That is what contributes to your success at the meet.”

Gaffalione has had more mounts – 47 – than anyone else in the first five days of the meet. Besides leading in wins, he has 10 second-place finishes, more than anyone else riding Kentucky Downs. His horses have earned a meet-high $1,755,391.

He started strong with a three-win opening day and had three more wins on Sept. 8.

“It’s very important to get off to a good start at a short meet,” Gaffalone said. “You want to get the momentum going in your favor.”

Among his mounts on Tuesday is the 3-2 Global Tote morning-line favorite Family Way for trainer Brendan Walsh in the G3, $550,000 AGS Ladies Marathon Stakes. Family Way and Gaffalione are looking to win the race for the second straight year. In 2021, they won the 1 5/16 mile race by a neck in a three-horse photo finish.

Family Way and Gaffalione finished third in the G1, $500,000 Beverly D. at Churchill Downs on Aug. 13 behind Dalika, who came back to win the G3, $1 million Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint last Saturday. Before that, Family Way was second, beaten a half-length in the G1, $750,000 New York Stakes at Belmont Park on June 10.

“She is a very talented filly,” Gaffalone said. “She has been knocking on the door the last two times. She’s very consistent and she shows up every time.”

On closing day, Gaffalione will ride Really Good, the 5-2 Global Tote morning-line favorite in the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile for leading trainer Mike Maker; Fuerteventura (9-2) in the $400,000 Pepsi Gun Runner for Jonathan Thomas and Petricor (10-1) in the $400,000 Pepsi One Dreamer for Hall of Famer Bill Mott.

“It’s a tough meet because it’s such a solid jockey colony,” Muzikar said “You have Joel (Rosario), Irad and Jose (Ortiz). The top riders are all there. It’s difficult, but the difficult thing with Kentucky Downs is that there are so many entries in each race. You need things to fall your way.”

Muzikar also said it doesn’t hurt that Gaffalione has been riding for trainers like Maker, who has already won a meet-record 11 races, Walsh, Steve Asmussen, Joe Sharp and Wesley Ward.

Winning a riding title is important to any rider and agent, no matter where it is.

“Everyone wants to win at Saratoga, everyone wants to win at Keeneland,” Muzikar said. “We try to do our best at every meet we are at. It so happens that the money is tremendous at Kentucky Downs. It’s a win-win if you have a great meet.”

Gerardo Corrales, who is riding the Kentucky Downs meet for the second time (he had five wins in 2020), is in second place with six wins. Rosario, who won 17 races to win the meet last year, has four winners, as does Julien Leparoux and Brian Hernandez Jr.

“It would mean a lot,” Gaffalione said about being the leading rider again. “We go into every meet trying to fight to be leading rider. As long as we win our fair share of the races and continue to pick up some nice, young horses, that is the most important thing.”

— By Tim Wilkin

Maker hoping to end record meet with a bang

With an unprecedented 11 wins and $2,048,712 in purse earnings, trainer Mike Maker already has enjoyed a record run at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs this year — with the opportunity to further pad his statistics.

Maker, working on breaking his own record of six Kentucky Downs training titles, had five horses scheduled to run on Tuesday’s nine-race card comprising the races that were postponed from Sunday because of inclement weather. He has 14 horses entered for Wednesday’s closing card, including two entrants in four races.

Maker is represented in the three stakes that close out the meet. He has favored Really Good and Bourbon Therapy in the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile that was rescheduled from the Sept. 3 card truncated by heavy rain. Real Good, the 5-2 favorite in the Global Tote morning line, won his lone start in a 1 1/16-mile grass race at Saratoga. Bourbon Therapy was sold to Three Diamonds Farm and sent to Maker after winning a grass sprint at Horseshoe Indianapolis.

“Really Good had a nice debut at Saratoga, and we have high expectations for him,” Maker said. “Bourbon Therapy is most likely a scratch.”

Camp David drew in off the also-eligible list to get in the inaugural $500,000 Gun Runner Stakes for 3-year-olds running a mile. It will be his first start for Three Diamonds Farm and Maker since being purchased for $130,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s July sale of horses of racing age.

Camp David makes his turf debut after winning an off-the-turf maiden race at Keeneland last fall. Following a seven-month layoff, the colt won an Indiana allowance race on dirt before fading to fifth in Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes.

“He’s trained very well for us and we look forward to getting him started,” Maker said.

Maker also got Gogo Shoes off the also-eligible list and into the meet’s final stakes, the $400,000 One Dreamer for fillies and mares that have not one a stakes in 2022. Gogo Shoes makes her first start for Maker, who claimed the 5-year-old mare for himself for $75,000 out of her last start at Colonial Downs.

“I like her,” Maker said. “I claimed her at Colonial this summer and she’s trained very well. I look forward to running her.”

Though he has set records with pretty much two days left, Maker said it’s important to him to try to end with a bang.

“Very important,” he said. “I wish we had more racing dates here at Kentucky Downs. We’re trying to get all we can.”

Kentucky Downs en Español proves a hit

DRF en Español, which is providing the first-ever Spanish language broadcast of Kentucky Downs’ races, has proven a hit with 145,344 views on Youtube through Sunday’s two races staged before the weather postponement. That includes 44,846 views on Saturday, when Kentucky Downs offered six graded stakes.

A full broadcast in Spanish has been available each racing day on and Meet-long content on DRF en Espanol and DRF en Espanol social media includes editorial content, handicapping shows, interviews and training reports. Veteran turf journalist and broadcaster Roberto Rodriguez, director of DRF en Espanol, will head the coverage, with David Merida providing the race call in Spanish.

Gaffalione: 'This meet is always on our radar' - The Mint Gaming Hall