10/01/2016 10:30AM

Gallardo changes plans, will move tack to New York

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Tom Keyser
Jockey Antonio Gallardo

Antonio Gallardo, the leading rider in North America by wins (289) this year, was planning on taking his talents to the West Coast to begin riding at Santa Anita next weekend. But in an abrupt change of plans, Gallardo will instead start riding at Belmont Park next weekend with the idea of staying on the East Coast for the winter.

Gallardo, a three-time leading rider at Tampa Bay Downs, is about to wrap up his third meet title at Presque Isle Downs and was then heading to Southern California next weekend. On Friday, he changed his mind and retained the services of Matt Muzikar, who will represent him in New York and then in south Florida at Gulfstream Park.

"I think I can make it," said Gallardo, who will finish riding at Presque Isle on Thursday. "This is the right time. I'm hot, and he has the connections."

Gallardo is expected to start riding at Belmont on Oct. 9.

Muzikar was the agent for Javier Castellano for seven years until those two separated at the end of the Saratoga meet. Castellano has won the Eclipse Award for leading rider the last three years. Muzikar recently picked up Jose Lezcano, for whom he plans to continue working as an agent.

Coincidentally, Gallardo's 320 wins in 2015 were second only to Castellano's 344.

Gallardo, 28, said he felt more comfortable riding on the East Coast, where he knows more horsemen. In addition to his dominance at Tampa and Presque Isle, Gallardo was the fourth-leading rider at Monmouth Park with 48 wins and ranked second in stakes wins with nine.

In his Belmont Park debut last Saturday, Gallardo won two races, including the $125,000 Ashley T. Cole on Kharafa for Tim Hills.

Gallardo's change of plans came as a shock to Mike Moran, Gallardo's agent of three years. Moran on Friday was driving across the country to California to start booking mounts for Gallardo when he got the call from Gallardo.

"I thought we were really tight," Moran said from New Mexico. "I was taking him to California, and I thought he could be leading rider at Del Mar. Here's where you get to ride Derby horses that win and Breeders' Cup horses that win. I just think it was a great time to go, and I thought he felt the same thing – that's why I was driving here. I was so excited. I've been on the phone the last 48 hours making calls for him. Now, I don't have a job. I can't believe it."

Said Gallardo: "I'm supposed to feel super happy, I feel super bad. He was a great agent. We did a lot of good together. I need somebody to take me to the next level."

Jacka Diamond 5 months ago
Right move done the wrong way. I think the move to Cali was 1/2 hearted on Gallardo's part--with the wife wanting to stay on the East Coast. With his EC connections and Jose Ortiz in KY, this was the right move without doubt. Manny Franco's business hmmmnnnnnn.
Bill Fiore 6 months ago
I watched him excel for three years in a row, especially in grass races, at Tampa Bay Downs.  I once told him that I expect to see  a wise trainer one day select him to ride a horse in a Breeders Cup grass race. 
MollyJulia624 6 months ago
Anthony Gallardo Should Go To Santa Anita & Del Mar To Compete Against Rafael Bejarano?
Gunner 6 months ago
Much better to go to New York and compete against the Ortiz brothers, JJ Cast, JRV, Joel R, Franco, Carmouche et al.
datdudeBPM 6 months ago
He should ride the winter at AQU, make a ton of money and get in good with the NY trainers, and then make a fulltime go of NY next year. Dude has a ton of talent. 
Robert Clayton 6 months ago
His wife wanted to stay on the east coast.....nuff said.....but it could have been handled a whole lot better
Jimmy McNerney 6 months ago
Nothing against Matt as his accolades speak for themselves and I'm confident he will do a superb job and take this kid to the top, but this jock says he needs somebody to take him to the next level, well he had that. Mike Moran took him when he was basically an unwanted bottom tier guy for a couple years in florida. He went from a complete unknown to leading the country in wins with several leading rider titles along the way in a very short time. I would say that is the next level. I have no doubt in my mind that he would have continued to increase this kids business and would have taken him to the top at a national level. I agree with Mike, that Cali is best place to achieve that right now. Their jockey colony for the caliber of racing is feeble. I normally don't comment on these things, as it's none of my business, but the way this went down is unreasonable. They had been planning this for a long time and for that jock to let him drive almost all the way across the country before telling him is classless and disreputable to say the least. 
Joseph Donato 6 months ago
big mistake#1- sounds like he screwed his agent. #2 hes delusional coming here  going against the ORTIZ brothers and some of the best veteran riders in the country. his old agent is right. he would have got to ride derby horses that WIN (in cali). i think there is too much competition here now for him in NEW YORK. we will see.
pacl111 6 months ago
 NY needs new blood.  Too many live ones going to the same 3 or 4.
Nick Nicholson 6 months ago
It's not a good day for Mike Moran but I think going to Ny is the right choice. The purses are bigger and the fields are larger.
DavidM9999 6 months ago
So much for loyalty Mike. You know someone until you don't. Three years is a lifetime in a sport where they time things in fifths of seconds. Keep driving west and enjoy sunny SoCal. Gallardo is a talented guy in sport where the jockey colony is not stacked with HoF types currently.