Jockey Edgard Zayas Notches 2,000th Career Win Friday
Rallies Miss You Ella to Victory in $70,000 Cellars Shiraz
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jockey Edgard Zayas celebrated his 2,000th career victory in style Friday at Gulfstream Park, rallying Wonder Stables, Madaket Stables and Golconda Stable’s 3-year-old filly Miss You Ella to a popular triumph in the $70,000 Cellars Shiraz.
Trained by Sunshine Meet leading trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., Miss You Ella ($6.60) completed one mile and 70 yards in 1:43.81 over the all-weather Tapeta course to become a stakes winner for the first time after placing twice previously, including the Sweetest Chant (G3) Feb. 5.
Miss You Ella rated in mid-pack as Frippet led through an opening quarter-mile in 25.72 seconds until Omixochitl took over after a half in 51.95. Zayas tipped outside on the far turn and set his sights on the leader, gaining steadily through the stretch before edging past approaching the wire.
“My plan was to try to follow [Omixochitl]. The last time they ran together, she beat her,” Zayas said. “I thought if I had a shot to beat her, I just had to follow her around and see if I could finish it. As soon as she got in the clear, she finished up really strong. She keeps improving every race.”
Zayas reached the milestone four months after returning from surgery on his left shoulder that ended his 2021 season last December, the subsequent recovery and rehabilitation keeping him out of action until June 24.
Miss You Ella was the fifth of six mounts on the day for Zayas, 29, who had run second five times after getting No. 1,999 Oct. 29, including twice Friday. It was Zayas’ seventh stakes win since coming back, following Lynx in the Florida Sire Stakes Desert Vixen and Susan’s Girl, Turbo in the Juvenile Sprint, Chasing Artie in the Bobby Umphrey Sprint, Blind Spot in the Our Dear Peggy and Clapton in the Gil Campbell Memorial.
“It feels amazing,” Zayas said. “It was a little harder than I thought to get the last one, but we were close a few times and hopefully there’s more to come.”
Zayas notched a second straight win Friday aboard Bass Stables’ Avow ($3.60), the 4-5 favorite trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, in Race 9 to move into a tie with Leonel Reyes for second in the rider standing with 17 wins, trailing only Miguel Vasquez’s 29.
A native of Puerto Rico where he attended jockey school, Zayas ventured directly to South Florida to launch his professional career, making his debut Oct. 28, 2012 and winning his first race Nov. 17, 2012 aboard Five Afternoons, both at Calder Race Course, later Gulfstream Park West.
He developed a friendship with Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr., who took him under his wing and worked with him daily to develop his riding style during the 2012-2013 Championship Meet. Zayas went on to win 203 races in 2013 including his first Grade 1 on Starship Truffles in the Princess Rooney Handicap, and became a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion apprentice.
Zayas has won more than 200 races in six of his nine full seasons, winning several riding titles in South Florida and earning victory No. 1,000 Aug. 12, 2017 at Gulfstream on Highborn. He has personal single-season highs of 1,447 starters in 2020, 285 wins in 2014 and $8.44 million in purse earnings in 2021.
Among the top horses Zayas has ridden are $5.5 million earner Gunnevera and fellow graded-stakes winners Sharp Azteca, Consumer Credit, C. Zee, Favorite Tale, Isabella Sings, Dearest, Shakhimat, Drain the Clock and Wholebodemeister.
Zayas enjoyed a breakout 2020-2021 Championship Meet ranking fifth with 74 wins and nearly $2.8 million in purse earnings, followed by 2021 spring-summer and fall meet titles. Before having surgery, he had 11 wins to start 2021-2022 Championship Meet including victories in the Claiming Crown Tiara on Sugar Fix and Claiming Crown Express on Face of Victory.
“Hopefully we keep the support from all the trainers and all the owners and we have a good upcoming winter meet,” Zayas said. “It’s even more special to [get No. 2,000] for Saffie. I’ve won so many races for him and been riding for him for a long time. But, I have to thank everyone for always supporting me for all these years.”
During his recovery and rehabilitation, Zayas was able to spend some quality family time with his wife, Ashley, and daughters, Lillian (5) and Lilah (21 months), who celebrated in the winner’s circle after the race.
“For them to be here is very special,” Zayas said. “Their support means everything.”