Jockey Edgard Zayas was back at Gulfstream Park with a full book of mounts Sunday, less than 24 hours after he rode ex-claimer Math Wizard to a second-place finish behind Owendale in the $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown in North Randall, Ohio.
Both Zayas, a nine-time graded-stakes winner with 1,363 career victories, and Math Wizard were making their Thistledown debuts in the 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds.
“It was the first time I had ever ridden at Thistledown. It was a pretty nice track, very similar to this one, and the horse liked it,” Zayas said. “He had a beautiful trip. The winner followed me the whole race and we were just second-best.”
Zayas had Math Wizard in contention throughout and was engaged by Owendale for a duel down the stretch before the Preakness (G1) third-place finisher edged clear late for a half-length victory. Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., who claimed Math Wizard for $25,000 in January, removed blinkers for the Ohio Derby.
“I thought he ran an awesome race. [Removing] the blinkers definitely helped him a lot and I think he's just improving every race. We were very happy with his performance. The horse that beat him is a very nice horse,” Zayas said. “He kicked on and he never stopped trying. He ran a huge race.”
It was the second straight time Zayas was aboard Math Wizard, having finished fourth together in the Oaklawn Park Invitational May 4 behind Laughing Fox, whose victory earned him an automatic berth in the May 18 Preakness.
“There was definitely a big difference than from Oaklawn this time. He ran a different race and we rode him different,” Zayas said. “We tried some different stuff with him and it worked out good. I'm very excited to see what the future holds with him.”
The 3-year-old son of Algorithms made his career debut from the barn of Brad Cox, trainer of the Ohio Derby winner Owendale. Daniel Sanner trained the colt for his next three starts, including a pair of third-place finishes, the second behind eventual Florida Derby winner Maximum Security in a maiden $16,000 event.
Claimed out of that spot by Antonio Sano, Math Wizard broke his maiden for the $16,000 tag in his next start and was again claimed, this time by Paul Kopaj. Saffie Joseph claimed Math Wizard in his next outing, a $25,000 event in which the colt won by 18 1/2 lengths.
Making his first start for Joseph, the colt was second in a starter allowance contest at Gulfstream, then followed up that effort with a fourth in the Wood Memorial. Math Wizard ran fourth again in the Oaklawn Invitational, and the G3 Ohio Derby placing was his first graded stakes placing. Overall, the colt's record stands at 2-2-2 from 10 starts for earnings of $204,873.
Out of the G3 winner Minister's Baby (Deputy Minister), Math Wizard is a half-sibling to Puerto Rican Group 2 winner Ginny's Grey and $185,277 earner Minister Colin.
Zayas, who turns 26 June 27, leads Emisael Jaramillo 64-56 in Spring Meet jockey standings. Zayas returned to Gulfstream Sunday, winning Race 7 with For the Gipper ($2.40), a pick-up mount originally scheduled to be ridden by Jaramillo.
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