Tyler Gaffalione Profile
|Born||Sep 12, 1994|
|Birthplace||Davie, Florida, USA|
Eclipse Award winner following in the footsteps of his father Steve and grandfather Bobby by becoming a successful jockey.
American Thoroughbred horse racing jockey Tyler Gaffalione has quickly risen through the ranks over the last few years to become one of the sport's best. Receiving prestigious awards like the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey and winning more than 200 races in each of his first four seasons, Gaffalione is often one of the leading riders on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Tyler Gaffalione has made more than 8,500 career starts, collecting more than 1,500 wins. His total purse earnings sit above $71.5million.
A strong horse racing background
The American jockey was born into a horse racing family in Davie, Florida, in 1994. His father, Steve Gaffalione, was also a south Florida-based jockey from 1978 to 1998. He had more than 800 wins throughout his 20-year career.
The entire family relocated to Gaffalione's home city after his grandfather, Bobby Gaffalione, was hired to work on Stephen Calder's farm. Bobby Gaffalione guided horses more than 3,200 times starting in 1976, and he was the jockey aboard Calder's first horse at Calder Race Course. Bobby also finished 10th on board Rexon's Hope in the 1984 Kentucky Derby.
Tyler Gaffalione started riding horses at the age of four when he received his first pony. He later went on to attend Western High School before moving over to Sunlake High School, where he graduated in 2013.
The Eclipse Award, Preakness and Grade 1 wins
Gaffalione's first-ever race took place on September 5, 2014. In that outing, Gaffalione admits that he was unprepared, breaking last and finishing last. However, two days later, he ran in his third career race and finished first by half a length aboard Holdin Bullets at Gulfstream.
It didn't take long for Gaffalione to find his rhythm and by the end of 2014 he had won 28 races despite his rough start.
Just one year later, Gaffalione was awarded the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. He had 217 wins that season, with notable performances including five victories in one day at Gulfstream.
His first-ever stakes win came in the Sunrise Stakes on Celebrity Star on May 3, 2015, at Gulfstream Park. His first graded stakes victory came in the Grade 3 Rampart Stakes aboard Cali Star on December 12, 2015, also at Gulfstream Park.
Gaffalione's 2015 season resulted in a 15% win rate for the rider and included four black-type stakes victories in total.
The jockey's 2016 season saw him score his first Keeneland win on October 22 aboard Cookies Are Good.
After a consistent 2017 season, with more starts and wins than in previous campaigns, Gaffalione enjoyed significant race victories in 2018. He won multiple riding titles at Gulfstream Park and, on June 30, he won seven races on a single racecard to tie the record held by Jerry Bailey.
Some of his major highlights of the 2018 season included his first Grade 1 victory in the La Troienne on Kentucky Oaks Day when he guided Salty home. He also finished the 2018 Fall Meet at Keeneland as leading jockey with 15 victories, including the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile aboard Next Shares, the 23/1 longshot. He also took the Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run aboard Shamrock Rose.
From 2014 through 2018, Gaffalione increased his yearly purse earnings each year. He collected a career-best $12.7million in 2018 and registered his 1,000th career win.
He was to earn north of $15million in both 2019 and 2020, with the jockey's most prestigious victory in this period coming in the 2019 Preakness Stakes aboard War of Will. His other wins that year included the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes and the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, both of which saw Gaffalione ride War of Will.
In 2020, Gaffalione recorded his second title at Keeneland after winning seven races during the five-day Summer Meet. He then took his third title in the 2020 Fall Meet after winning 24 times.
Major racing victories
Since taking his first victory in 2014, the young rider has won many of the sport's top races, including the Rampart Stakes (2015), the Matron Stakes (2017), the Miami Mile Stakes (2017), the W. L. McKnight Handicap (2017), the Bourbonette Oaks (2018), the Fort Marcy Stakes (2018), the La Troienne Stakes (2018), the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (2018), the Raven Run Stakes (2018), the Kelso Handicap (2018), the Jeff Ruby Stakes (2019), the Matriarch Stakes (2019), the Risen Star Stakes (2019), the Lecomte Stakes (2019), the Alabama Stakes (2020) and the Coaching Club American Oaks (2020).
Gaffalione's most prestigious victory came in the Preakness Stakes in 2019 on War of Will.
Tyler Gaffalione's horses
Some of Gaffalione's most significant horses over the last few years have included Got Stormy, Swiss Skydiver and Hot Rod Charlie.
Gary Barber's Got Stormy is a mare from Get Stormy, trained by Mark Casse. She has more than 25 career starts and earnings above $2million. Some of her recent performances with Gaffalione as jockey include victories in the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes (G3) at Keeneland on October 9, 2020, and the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs on September 12, 2020.
Peter Callahan's Swiss Skydiver is another one of the jockey's recent runners. The Daredevil filly, trained by Kenneth McPeek, has more than $1.8million in purse earnings. Some of Gaffalione's recent performances aboard the filly include second at the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs on September 4, 2020, and first in the Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on August 15, 2020.
Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing and William Strauss' Hot Rod Charlie was one of the runners on the 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby. The Oxbow colt has had a few different riders during his small number of starts, and it was thought that Gaffalione could play an increasing role aboard the runner after guiding the colt to his runner-up finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland last November. In the end though, Hot Rod Charlie was ridden by Flavien Prat in the Kentucky Derby, with Gaffalione riding Soup And Sandwich.
Some of the other racehorses that Gaffalione has guided throughout recent years include Zulu Alpha, Paris Lights, War of Will, Plum Ali, Multiplier, Fauci, Guildsman, Extravagant Kid and Locally Owned.