With a win in the Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita, Geovanni Franco captured his first Grade 1 stakes victory and was named Jockeys' Guild Jockey of the Week for March 12 – 18, 2018. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys' Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America. Jockey of the Week is sponsored by Animal Element's Foundation Detox and Product X Performance Enhancer.
The $400,000 Santa Margarita was the only Grade 1 event of the weekend, and it went to a relative newcomer at Santa Anita: 27-year-old Geovanni Franco. Franco and Fault ($9.00) settled back early, circled three-wide around the stretch, and cleared the field by over six dominating lengths in Saturday'sfeature race at Santa Anita.
It was the first Grade 1 win for both Franco and Fault, and it was the first graded win for Fault on the dirt, though she has several graded stakes efforts and wins over grass. The 4-year-old Blame filly is out of the Horse Chestnut mare Charming N Lovable, trained by Phil D'Amato and owned by Agave Racing Stable and Little Red Feather Racing.
This was the second time that Franco led Fault to the winner's circle in a graded stakes race; in February, the pair won the $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes (G2). In that race, Franco rode Fault ($26.20) to a one-length win in a field of nine in her first start at Santa Anita.
The Buena Vista marked Franco's second graded stakes win also; his first graded stakes win came just a year ago aboard Inside Straight ($41.40) in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for trainer Robertino Diodoro. The pair defeated Domain's Rap and heavily favored Midnight Storm to win by two lengths last April.
Franco, a native of Mexico City, began riding in Mexico and moved to Canada for a two-year apprenticeship. He arrived in the United States in 2011 and soon settled into a year-round riding circuit between Canterbury Park and Turf Paradise before his recent move to Santa Anita.
Thanks to his win in the Santa Margarita, Franco was the third leading North American rider by stakes earning for the week, with $252,690, and the eighth leading jockey by total earnings, with $287,429. In his 15 starts, he won two races and had two second-place finishes, ending in the money on 27% of his mounts, all at Santa Anita. He finished fourth in his other graded stakes appearance of the week, aboard Lucy De in Sunday's Santa Ana (G2).
It was a tough ballot for voters this week, including two jockeys with five-win days: Florent Geroux at the Fair Grounds on Friday and Javier Castellano at Gulfstream on Saturday. The panel also supported Luis Saez, who led by both stakes and overall earnings for the week.
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