Three wins on the all-stakes card at Charles Town on Saturday night, including a three-horse photo for the win in the feature race, propelled Christian Hiraldo to the top of the ballot as voters named him the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for the week ending October 15, 2017. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America. Jockey of the Week is sponsored by Animal Element’s Foundation Detox and Product X Performance Enhancer.
On Saturday night, Charles Town hosted the 31st running of the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic night, celebrating the best West Virginia-bred Thoroughbreds with nine stakes worth $1,000,000. Jockey Christian Hiraldo had a mount in every race; by the end of the night he would have finished in the exacta on two-thirds of the card.
Hiraldo’s first win came in the second race on Moonlit Song ($2.60), a wire-to-wire winner that was well-supported by bettors in the $125,000 West Virginia Cavada Breeders’ Classic Stakes.
He returned to the winners’ circle in the next race, but this time he was on the upset winner, Bound to Windsor($32.20), in the $75,000 West Virginia Triple Crown Nutrition Breeders’ Classic Stakes. The winning pair sat in midpack before running down the leader and 1/9 post-time favorite, Noblame, to win by half a length.
Hiraldo’s final win came in the biggest stakes of the card on paper, and it proved to be the most exciting race of the night. His mount was the lukewarm favorite, Charitable Annuity, a 5-year-old gelding seeking his second win in the $350,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic Stakes. Charitable Annuity won the Breeders’ Classic Stakes in 2015, but had to settle for second-place in the same race in 2016.
Hiraldo and Charitable Annuity tracked the field, fanned six-wide, and got up in time for a three-way photo for the win. Only noses separated Charitable Annuity ($5.60) from second-place finisher North Atlantic and leading jockey Arnaldo Bocachica and third-place finisher Weekend Liberty and jockey Gerald Almodovar.
Charitable Annuity is trained by James Casey for owner Mark Russell; bred in West Virginia by Donald Duvall. He has won 15 of his 28 lifetime starts and has earned $848,454.
In between his trips to the winners’ circle, Hiraldo found time to finish in second place in three more stakes races: the $75,000 West Virginia Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders’ Classic with Binn Goode, $75,000 West Virginia Division of Tourism Breeders’ Classic Stakes with Tricky Windsor, and the $80,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic Distaff Stakes with Rock n’ Gold.
His stakes performances netted him $307,260 in stakes earnings, the third highest total among all North American jockeys last week. He was also the fifth leading rider by total earnings.
Hiraldo won three of his 16 starts last week, and also had six second-place finishes and three third-place finishes, giving him a win rate of 19%. He finished in the money on 75% of his mounts. To date in 2017, he has won 113 of his 554 starts, and he 395 for 2,746 lifetime. Last week he added $324,528 to his earnings total of with $2,061,663 this year. His career earnings exceed $7 million.
In each of the last two years, Hiraldo has finished fourth in the rider standings at Charles Town. Currently, he sits in second place, just two wins behind Arnaldo Bocachica, and leads the meet by earnings.
Due to holiday racing schedules for the Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day holiday weekend, statistics used for this week’s ballot included Tuesday, October 11, through Sunday, October 15.