Tyler Conner earns Jockey of the Week laurels

Local leading rider Tyler Conner put his familiarity with the Penn National main track and turf course to very good use on Friday, winning three of the six stakes including an upset win in the Grade 2 Penn Mile.

A panel of racing experts voted Conner Jockey of the Week for May 31 through June 5. The award honors jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 1050 active, retired and permanently disabled jockeys in the United States.

Conner’s stakes wins began in the third race on Friday riding for trainer Erin McClellan on Maldives Model in the $100,000 Lyphard Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares three-years-old and up.  Breaking alertly from post position two in the field of eight, Maldives Model made every pole a winning one to take the one-mile and one-sixteenth turf test by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:48.40.

Trainer James Lawrence II gave a leg up to Conner on Wow Whata Summer in the $400,000 Grade 2 Penn Mile for three-year-olds on the turf, the flagship event at Penn National. Off as the seventh choice in the eight-horse field with the turf rated as soft, Conner and Wow Whata Summer raced in second along the rail before overtaking pace setter Uncaptured Spirit turning into the stretch. The duo went on the post a 1-1/4 length win in 1:42.39 for the shocking 83-1 upset over the favored Annapolis. The win was the biggest career score for Conner.

Conner was next aboard Nimitz Class for trainer Bruce Kravits in the $100,000 Danzig Stakes for three-year-old Pennsylvania breds. Settling early in the six-furlong main track event, Nimitz Class went three wide on the turn, overcame traffic trouble in the stretch to post a 1-3/4 length win in 1:09.82 over nine rivals as the second favorite.

[From 2015: Tyler Conner chooses safety – and a bright future]

Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania near Penn National, Conner, 28, has been riding since 2014 but being a jockey was not his first career.  He competed in motocross motorcycle racing as a youngster and thought he could make a living.  After serious injuries, however, he looked for an alternative career choice. Being from a racing family with a father who was a trainer and his mother who was a jockey and a steward, Conner thought with that background and his competitive nature, the transition to riding was a natural. Penn National has been his home base with occasional trips to mid-Atlantic tracks as well as a year riding in California.  With 986 wins through June 4, Conner is close to recording his 1,000th  career win.

Conner’s statistics for the week were 18-6-4-5 and total purse earnings of $453,916.  Conner led all jockeys in stakes earnings with $378,400.

Conner outpolled fellow jockeys Tyler Gaffalione with two stakes and nine total wins, Alex M. Cruz who also won nine races, Julien Leparoux with a graded stakes win and also recorded his 1,000th Churchill Downs career win and Luis Saez who won his 3,000th career race.

  • Wow Whata Summer was an 83-1 upset winner in the Penn Mile. Photo by Bill Denver/EQUI-Photo.
  • Tyler Conner. Photo by Hoofprintsinc.com.