Tears of joy streamed down Karina Morales’ face as she hugged her husband, jockey Edwin Gonzalez, after his sixth victory Friday at Tampa Bay Downs.
A few moments later, Gonzalez admitted that he was crying too while galloping out Blake’s Magic following his triumph on the 7-year-old mare in the 10th race on the turf.
“I feel so happy. My agent (Mike Moran) and I have been working so hard, but today is still hard to believe,” said the 25-year-old Gonzalez, the second jockey in track history to win six races on a single card.
“(Moran) told me I was going to start a little slow here because it was my first year, but he thought I could be leading jockey. We’re both trying hard to make that happen, and everything I rode today was hot,” he added.
Only Richard DePass has ridden more winners on a single Oldsmar card. He was 7-for-7 on March 15, 1980, the first jockey in Thoroughbred history to achieve that feat.
Gonzalez’s big day included a dead-heat victory in the sixth race and a third-place finish in the seventh, his lone defeat. He swept the day’s final three races and won two for trainer Mandy Ness, on Blake’s Magic and on 8-year-old gelding One for Don in the eighth race.
“Awesome performances. I couldn’t ask for better rides,” Ness said. “Edwin has been very consistent for us all season and is getting better and better. He studies the races and is learning his competition, and right now he’s riding great.”
Gonzalez, who once won six races on a card at Penn National, now has 53 victories and is second in the track standings, eight behind five-time leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Daniel Centeno.
“It was special today because my family was here (Morales, who is expecting their child in July, and his 8-year-old stepson Adrian),” said Gonzalez, who rides Lots o’ Lex for trainer Gerald Aschinger in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Hillsborough Stakes. “I’m just going to keep working hard so trainers know I’m going to give them 100 percent.”
Gonzalez’s big day started in the second race on Perennis, a 3-year-old filly owned by James Georgeades and Michael Pugliese and trained by Gerald Bennett. His next mount came in the fifth on the turf, which he won by a nose on 3-year-old colt El Cojo Paa for owner William Rivera and trainer Victor Carrasco, Jr.
In the sixth, Gonzalez rode 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding Oldstone Farmhouse to a dead-heat victory with Big Awesome. Jason DaCosta owns and trains Oldstone Farmhouse.
Following his third-place finish and the victory on One for Don, Gonzalez moved closer to etching his name in track annals with a textbook, come-from-behind ride in the ninth race on the turf on 10-1 shot Just My Game for owners Kathleen O’Connell and James O’Connor, with O’Connell the trainer.
Gonzalez eliminated the suspense in the 10th race on the far turn, making a decisive move to propel Blake’s Magic to a two-length victory.
That one was claimed by trainer Teresa Connelly for new owner Carl L. Hess, Jr., but it wouldn’t be surprising if they don’t switch jockeys.