Junior Alvarado, who has made the decision to ride year-round at Gulfstream Park, got off to a quick start for the Spring/Summer Royal Palm Meet while scoring an upset victory aboard Discreet Tune in Thursday’s Race 6 featured optional claiming allowance.
“When you make a new start, you want to show people what you’re capable of. When you start something new, you want to show them you’re still on your game and that it doesn’t matter if it’s a $6,000 claimer or the best race of the day,” Alvarado said. “I came here to win races.”
The 35-year-old jockey, a mainstay in New York in recent years, notched his 1911th career success aboard Carlos David-trained Discreet Tune ($9) in the five-furlong turf dash.
Jonathan Thomas-trained High Front, who was coming off a dazzling 6 ½-length debut victory Jan. 28 at Gulfstream, was sent to post as the 2-5 favorite. Facing older rivals for the first time, the 3-year-old son of Summer Front was fractious while loading into the starting gate and was shuffled back to last shortly after being crowded at the start. High Front made steady progress under Luis Saez to reach contention on the far turn. However, he was unable to sustain his drive as Discreet Tune, who stalked early-pacesetter Phase Out, kicked clear in the stretch to win by 2 ¼ lengths.
Discreet Tune, a hard-knocking veteran of 20 starts (five wins) ran five-furlongs on a firm turf om 55.69 seconds. Ruse closed late to finish a nose ahead of a tiring High Front.
“When we broke out of there [High Front] didn’t break very good and the horse inside him came out and bumped him a little. I sent my horse. I expected to take the lead but another horse got it, and I just decided to sit there and wait,” Alvarado said. “I saw the big favorite moving by the 5/16ths pole, but after making that move and breaking slow like he did, I knew, for a younger horse, he was going to pay the price. I bided my time a little bit. When I turned for home, I turned my horse lose and he ran on really well.”
Alvarado ranked sixth with 49 wins during the Championship Meet that ended Sunday.
Paco Lopez rode three winners on Thursday’s program, scoring aboard Shanghai Warrior ($8.20) in Race 1, Smart Spending ($6) in Race 3 and Uno Tiger ($4.20) in Race 7.
Jockey David Lopez has ventured from Golden Gate Fields looking for a fresh start during Gulfstream Park’s Spring/Summer Royal Palm Meet.
The 32-year-old journeyman is the son of C. C. [Chuck] Lopez and grandson of Carlos Lopez.
“I did well at every course in California, I just wanted to be on the East Coast – that’s where my family is,” Lopez said. “My dad, my grandfather did well here.”
Lopez, who won his first race at Monmouth Park in 2011, enjoyed his best year at Golden Gate Fields in 2015 with 107 victories and made headway into Southern California in 2016. Unfortunately, he would be out of action for 2 ½ years with injuries sustained in a morning training accident.
“I broke my L1 to L3 vertebrae and herniated a disc. That was a long recovery, longer than I expected,” said Lopez, who returned to action in May 2019 and has been riding at Golden Gate Fields with moderate success the past couple years.
On his second mount at Gulfstream, Lopez guided Khopilot to a second-place finish in Thursday’s Race 4.
“He broke a little green,” Lopez said. “He took a few steps out. I corrected him and had about four horses come over on me. I decided to just sit and wait and after turning for home, I tipped out and asked him and he finished well. He couldn’t get the winner.”