Jockey Antonio Gallardo, the current national leader in victories with 287 wins in 2016, will move his tack to Southern California at the completion of the Presque Isle Downs race meeting Oct. 6.
Gallardo ranked fourth in wins at this summer's Monmouth Park meet and leads the current Presque Isle meet with 135 wins.
"We've been thinking about this for some time, and (agent) Mike (Moran) and I agreed that if we were going to make this kind of move, this was the time to do it," Gallardo said. "Having the success we had at Monmouth this summer, and also riding and winning at Belmont (Park) convinced me we were ready to take it to the top levels in the business.
"I know the competition out west will be tough and it won't be easy to get established, but Mike has shown he's one of the top agents in the game. I'm confident he'll be able to get the business. Then it'll be up to me to prove I belong. I feel like I'm at the peak of my game right now, so while I realize it's a big challenge, I'm excited. I feel I'm ready."
Moran is traveling to Southern California Sept. 29 to find business for his rider, with a goal of having Gallardo on horses for the Oct. 8 card at Santa Anita Park.
Moran has had good feedback from horsemen regarding his rider.
"There are some very good riders on (the Southern California) circuit, but we feel Antonio is ready for the challenge to compete with them," Moran said. "In addition to topping the standings at Presque Isle, he's also been riding on the East Coast with good results. We ended up winning the most stakes at Monmouth, and (Gallardo) won 48 races and wound up fifth in the standings while commuting back and forth between Presque Isle and Monmouth. He won at Belmont last week, and he's proven he can ride and win with top competition. He's ready."
Moran said his other rider, Pablo Morales, will also be heading west. Morales has been second in the standings behind Gallardo at Presque Isle each of the past three seasons and has won at least 100 races each year since 2010.
Gallardo, a native of Spain, rode one horse in the U.S. in 2008, then began riding regularly in this country in 2009. He had limited success until 2013, when Moran took the rider's book. Gallardo won 101 races that season then rose to prominence in 2014, when he won 268 races while topping the jockey's standings at both Tampa Bay Downs and Presque Isle that year.
In 2015 Gallardo's 147 wins at Tampa for the 2014-15 meeting set a single-season record for races won at that track. His 161 victories at the Presque Isle meeting in 2015 also set a single-season mark for races won at that track. Last year Gallardo won 320 races. His mounts earned $5.44 million in purses in 2015. He ranked second in the nation in races won, second only to Javier Castellano, who had 344 wins.
This season the jockey won the riding title again at Tampa Bay with 135 victories.