Junior Alvarado’s Derby Prep Win Propels Him To Jockey Of The Week Honors

Junior Alvarado travelled from his winter base of Gulfstream Park to Tampa Bay Downs for their Festival Preview Day and won two of their graded stakes, earning Jockey of the Week honors for Feb. 1 through Feb. 7. The award, which is voted on by a panel of racing experts, is for jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 active riders in the United States as well as retired and permanently disabled jockeys.

Alvarado was given a leg up on Candy Man Rocket by trainer Bill Mott’s son and assistant, Riley Mott in the Gr. 3 Sam F. Davis, the centerpiece of the Festival Preview Day.

“I didn’t really want to engage the horse up front (Boca Boy) or make any quick move too early. I just had to move a little bit, keep holding my position and wait as long as I could,” Alvarado said. “At the sixteenth pole when I switched my stick to the right hand and showed it to him to see what I had left, he put his head low and kept grinding his way there.”

The margin of victory for the 1-1/16 mile test was a length in 1:44.30.

Earlier on the card, Alvarado had the mount on Get Smokin for trainer Tom Bush in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes, the second choice in the 12-horse field.

“I had to get out of there running. He’s a fast horse and he likes to be on the lead, but I knew (Proven Strategies) has a lot of speed too, so it wasn’t necessary for me to keep going after him and go head-to-head. I knew the whole way around I had plenty of horse. Turning for home, I was just a passenger…he started picking it up on his own without me asking, so I knew I was in good shape.”

The winning time for the 1-1/16 mile turf test was 1:40.75.

Usually a year-round force on the New York racing circuit, Alvarado returned to south Florida for the winter months for the first time in 12 years to follow Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

Alvarado’s statistics for the week were 27-5-2-2 with $322,585 in purse earnings.

Alvarado out-polled Antonio Gallardo who had a stakes win and earned his 2,000th career victory, Irad Ortiz, Jr. who had a stakes win and was leading jockey by wins, Flavien Prat who won the Gr. III Las Virgenes and Joel Rosario who won two graded stakes including the San Vincente.

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