Valdivia Celebrates Triumphant Return to Gulfstream Park
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jose Valdivia Jr. celebrated a triumphant return to Gulfstream Park Saturday, guiding Dreamlicious to an easy score in the second race.
The 39-year-old journeyman, who has switched his tack from Santa Anita to Gulfstream, scored an 8 ¾-length victory aboard the Peter Walder-trained filly in his very first race back.
“It’s funny how things go full-circle. I started in New York but I started learning how to ride here,” said Valdivia, who moved from Lima, Peru to West Palm Beach in 1989. “I’m very thankful to be here.”
Valdivia has ridden 1226 winners during a career that includes Grade 1 victories in the 2011 Belmont Stakes aboard Ruler on Ice and the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Mile aboard Val Royal. He also notched at Grade 1 victory in the 2011 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap aboard Teaks North.
His victory aboard Dreamlicious couldn’t have been easier. The 4-year-old filly, a main-track-only entrant who drew into the five-horse field when the race was taken off the turf, stalked pacesetter Sharp Words into the stretch before drawing away by open lengths in the stretch over the sloppy track.
“All I did was hang on,” Valdivia said. “When you ride this kind, all you’ve got to do is be a passenger.”
Valdivia hopes to make many more trips to the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle.
“I’m a family guy and now we have a place we can stay year-round,” he said. “There’s no place like South Florida, and what a great facility to ride at. It just makes sense.”