Fresh off his victory aboard Mark Casse-trained Two Sixty in Saturday's $400,000 My Dear Girl Division of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes, Edgard Zayas was honored as the Summer Meet's champion jockey on closing day Sunday at Gulfstream Park.
The featured guest in a winner's circle ceremony following Sunday's eighth race rode 66 winners to add the Summer Meet title to his several other South Florida meet championships, including this year's Spring Meet title.
Zayas' successes during the Spring and Summer Meets are all the more impressive when taking into account that the popular jockey missed the last three months of the 2018-2019 Championship Meet with a fractured femur in his right leg sustained in a spill Dec. 30.
“It's been a very special year after the injury I had and the recovery, and coming back. I've been trying to come back as hard as I can, getting stronger than ever and working harder than ever,” Zayas said. “Hard work has paid off. Thankfully, a lot of owners and trainers have been supporting me. My family supported me through all that recovery and it was awesome. We'll just try to keep it up.”
The 26-year-old native of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico won aboard his very first mount back, Front Loaded, on April 4 and has never looked back while piling up the victories, pushing his career total to 1,436. Zayas, who launched his career in South Florida in 2012 after attending the jockey school in Puerto Rico, won his first race at Calder [Gulfstream Park West] Nov. 12, 2012. He went on to become a finalist for the 2013 Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice after winning 203 races that year.
Live racing in South Florida will resume Wednesday at Gulfstream Park West, where Zayas captured last year's title with 47 victories. Zayas is viewing the Gulfstream Park West meet as a springboard for success at the 2019-2020 Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park that will get under way Nov. 29.
“I'm going into this next meet and work even harder,” said Zayas, who also guided the Todd Pletcher-trained Extraordinary Jerry to a victory in Saturday's $150,000 FSS Wildcat Heir Stakes. “I'm going to try to have a better meet because it's going to affect how we do this winter.”
Apprentice Cristian Torres finished in a tie with Miguel Vasquez for second with 53 victories each, one ahead of Emisael Jaramillo.
Victor Barboza Jr. captured the Summer Meet trainer's title with 28 wins, while Arindel captured a third straight Summer Meet title with 19 winners.
Gulfstream had a mandatory payout of its Rainbow 6 Sunday. Multiple tickets with six winners returned $24,221.40.
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