08/05/2014 12:36PM

Apprentice rider Ritvo's four-win day 'like a dream'

Coglianese Photos
Apprentice rider Michael Ritvo, shown here after earning his first win in March, rode four winners from eight mounts on Saturday's card at Gulfstream Park.

Michael Ritvo has been around racing his entire life, and he always marveled at the top jockeys, who would win three or four races a day with regularity.

So when the 20-year-old apprentice rider rode four winners Saturday at Gulfstream Park in South Florida, he was thrilled to know the feeling himself.

“It was something. It really was,” said Ritvo, whose first career mount was March 19. “I’d seen those guys do it and could only imagine it myself. It was almost like a dream.”

Ritvo had eight mounts Saturday, winning with Flash Winner ($10.20) in the second, Explosive Image ($14) in the third, Encrypted ($5.40) in the sixth, and Lucasta ($4) in the 10th.

[Gulfstream Park: Get PPs, watch Thursday’s card live]

It was the first time Ritvo had won more than two races on one day. Into action Thursday at Gulfstream, he has 26 wins from 227 mounts.

Explosive Image is trained by 91-year-old George Handy, who for years had a rivalry with Ritvo’s uncle, Michael Petro, during the heyday of New England racing.

“They used to claim horses off each other back home, and they still talk about it,” said Ritvo, whose mother, trainer Kathy Ritvo of Mucho Macho Man fame, is the sister of trainer Mike Petro and jockey Nick Petro. “So to win one for George was really great because he’s known my family forever. He’s still at it, winning races. It’s pretty amazing.”

Ritvo’s father, Tim, is a former trainer who has ascended the Gulfstream corporate ranks and currently is its president. The young apprentice said he intends to stay close to his parents at Gulfstream, although he did not necessarily rule out a move this winter, when many of the top jockeys in America will return to Florida.

“For now, I’m very happy here,” he said. “My business is good, and my agent [Oscar Sanchez] is doing a fabulous job. He put me on those winners Saturday, and I just did what I was supposed to do. I feel really fortunate.”

Ritvo is named on seven mounts Thursday and four on Friday.