Fate smiled on Paco Lopez on Friday, February 17, when he won five races in a single card at Gulfstream. Lopez was named Jockey of the Week for February 13-20, 2017. 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.
The Friday card at Gulfstream started off as any other day, but a reunion between Lopez and a horse that gave him a recent career milestone would prove to be auspicious later that afternoon.
Lopez had seven scheduled mounts and began the card with a third-place finish two lengths shy of the winner. He returned in the fourth race to ride post-time favorite Chia Ghost ($5.20) to victory in an optional claiming event.
Lopez’ win streak continued in the sixth race, when he and Sweet Butterfly ($13.20) defeated the favorite by over a length. He returned in the seventh race with longshot Mr. Brix ($29.20), setting moderate fractions over the turf course before sprinting home to win by over two lengths. His mount in the eighth, Pira ($4.80), was heavily favored but had to fight for their victory in a tight finish.
In December, Lopez celebrated his 2,000th career victory aboard Yourdreamsormine in an optional claiming event at Gulfstream. As luck would have it, Yourdreamsormine was entered in the ninth race on Friday’s card with Lopez aboard. The favored 5-year-old horse closed to win by three-quarters of a length, giving Lopez his fifth win of the day and fourth consecutive win on the card.
He just missed a six-win day when he finished second in the last race, but remained in the money for all of his mounts that day. In his 40 starts last week, he led the standings by wins with 11 wins, five seconds and six third-place finishes, giving him a win rate of 28%.
Last week, Lopez was tenth among all North American jockeys by total earnings, adding $277,396 to his career total. He is ranked sixth by earnings in the current Gulfstream meet, but is second only to Luis Saez by wins.
The winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey in 2008, Lopez has earned $1.29 million in his 212 starts of 2017 and currently is ranked 13th by annual earnings among all North American jockeys. In 2016, Lopez ended the year ranked 14th by earnings, having earned nearly $10 million during the year.
Due to holiday racing schedules over Presidents’ Day Weekend, the statistics used for the Jockey of the Week ballot spanned Monday, February 13 through Monday, February 20, 2017.