Jockeys Tyler Gaffalione and Edgard Zayas took part in Gulfstream Park's reading project at Ben Gamla Charter School Monday, visiting a number of classes and students.
Gaffalione and Zayas were joined by Gulfstream television hosts and analysts Acacia Courtney and Jason Blewitt. They talked about their careers, answered questions, and read “Robert the Show Horse” and “If I Ran the Horse Show” to second and fifth graders.
“It was a really beautiful experience,” Zayas said. “There are some amazing kids here and I really enjoyed it. I was able to explain what jockeys do each day. A lot of the students didn't know who or what jockeys are, so it was a really nice experience answering all of their questions and teaching them more about what we do. We talked about the importance of reading and how much studying and reading we have to do for our job. It was great and I really hope we can do it again.”
Said Gaffalione: “I described my daily routine with them and gave them an insider's look at what a jockey's life is really like. I read a story to them and we took pictures and handed out some fun items to each student afterwards. I'm so thankful we were able to get involved, it was a great experience.”
Ben Gamla Principal Sharon Miller said the day was a “community experience.”
“I will tell you candidly my children's eyes lit up and they were so excited to see everyone from Gulfstream,” she added. “I think the intricacies of the entire team was a learning experience for not only the children, but for myself and the teachers. They were all beyond elated and were mesmerized by the jockeys, and I think today in this fast paced world, when children only learn about a few careers, for them to recognize what it takes to be able to have this type of a local, wonderful racing that's nearby, they truly learned a lot. All of them I thought were astonished when they recognized the reading that the jockeys have to do. Tyler and Edgard were kind, very nurturing to the children and so patient.”