Longtime New York trainer Gary Gullo has replaced Ron Ebanks as agent for jockey Jorge Chavez. Gullo, who gave up his 25 horses in training to take the job, will begin booking mounts for Chavez as soon as the rider finishes his rehab for vertebrae fractures suffered in a spill in the Florida Derby.
"Georgie had asked me to take over his book a while ago," Gullo said. "I kinda thought about it, but I was training all those horses, and I wasn't ready at the time. When Georgie came up to New York this year, he told me (Ebanks) wasn't interested in coming, and asked me again. I've played golf with Georgie a lot and have known him for a long time. We've been good friends.
"He's a great rider, and I always wanted to ride him when I had horses. I always thought I'd make a good agent. I trained for 25 years, and last year was my worst year ever, so when the opportunity came around again, I figured I'd better jump at it. I've gotten rid of all my horses except one. I run him next Wednesday and that's it. I sold a lot of the horses. Gary Sciacca got some and Todd Pletcher took one. Training is tough. I loved it, but it's hard to make ends meet. You get a handful of trainers who make money, and I wasn't one of them."
Gullo is the son of the late trainer Tommy Gullo, who trained for 45 years, and who died in 1993 at age 69.
Gullo has been preparing for his new career. "All I have to do is steal a book and borrow a pen and I'm in business," he said. "I've even been practicing lying to my wife. But seriously, I know all the trainers are rooting for me. I've paid my dues. I'm closing one book and opening another book with Georgie."
Chavez is finishing up his rehabilitation and is expected to return riding in the near future. X-rays of his back will determine when he'll be ready. Chavez suffered hairline fractures of three vertebrae when he was thrown by Midway Cat, who broke down in the Florida Derby and had to be euthanized.
With Richard DePass as his agent, Chavez captured the 2001 Kentucky Derby aboard Monarchos and won Breeders' Cup races on Beautiful Pleasure (Distaff) and Artax (Sprint) in 1999.