05/13/2010 11:00PM

Lopez heads to Jersey Shore

Email

MIAMI - Paco Lopez, who ran away with the 2010 Gulfstream Park jockey title, ended his brief tenure at Calder after fulfilling his riding obligations here Friday.

Lopez was named to ride seven horses Saturday at Arlington Park, then he plans to continue on to Monmouth Park, where he will be based during the summer. The 2008 Eclipse Award winner for outstanding apprentice jockey, Lopez was third in the Calder standings and exited with a flourish after posting three wins on Thursday's card.

"Frank Calabrese called us to ride a stakes for him at Arlington on Saturday, and once word got out everybody started naming him on horses," said Lopez's agent, Cory Moran. "He'll be at Monmouth on Sunday and set to go when the meet opens next week. He'll be based in New Jersey but will ride the Northeast region throughout the summer when Monmouth is dark."

Lopez won 70 races, 15 more than runner-up Elvis Trujillo, during the Gulfstream meet. He then opted to spend some extra time in south Florida to be with his wife, Reata, who gave birth to the couple's first child, Benny Luca Lopez, earlier this month.

"I thought Paco did really well in his short stay at Calder, especially since I wasn't there to work the meet one single morning," said Moran, who has been at Monmouth laying down the groundwork for the summer. "I think if he could win the Gulfstream title against that colony they had there this winter, he'll have no problem up here. In fact, I'm getting double and triple calls for him already."

Lopez is already committed to ride Arson Squad for trainer Rick Dutrow in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs June 12. Lopez guided Arson Squad to victory in the Grade 3 Alysheba on Oaks Day at Churchill.

Trujillo also rode here with success before beating his colleague Lopez out of town and up to Monmouth, where he too will be based this summer. Trujillo won 8 races from just 21 mounts during the first nine days of the Calder meet.

Star Player back on turf

Sunday's 10-race program will be highlighted by a pair of allowance races, a first-level optional $16,000 claimer on the grass for older horses and an entry-level dirt sprint for 3-year-old fillies.

Star Player, who has not tried turf since late last summer at Arlington Park, will likely vie for favoritism with recent open claiming winner Justin Rules in the eighth race at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The field also includes the one-time stakes-caliber Magic Mecke, who continues to be competitive at this level at the age of 10.

Deposit Only, runaway winner of the Cherokee Frolic Starter Stakes closing day at Gulfstream, will likely be favored over recent maiden winners Gorgeous Melody, Cat Wiesel, and A Trippi Moment in the ninth race at seven furlongs.

* Manny Cruz leapfrogged apprentice Luis Saez and moved back atop the standings in defense of his 2009 Calder riding title after winning three of the first four races on Friday's card.