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Barn Notes: Saturday, June 15, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/16/2013 #

In Today’s Notes:  Florent Flourishing in 2013


FLORENT FLOURISHING IN 2013
In 2012, despite six weeks off because of an injury, jockey Florent Geroux had a respectable Arlington International Racecourse meet.  This year, the 26-year-old Frenchman has been healthy, happy and is doing nothing short of flourishing.  After winning five races in the last two race days, including a hat trick on Wednesday June 12, the Normandy native has almost equaled his win total of the previous year. 

“I’m healthy and have good trainers trusting me with their horses.  I think things could have been like this last year, but I was injured and lost a lot of my business after that,” Geroux reflected.  “There’s always a lot of luck and timing involved.  And, riding for good horses for trainers like Catalano is important, too.”

Indeed, leading trainer Wayne Catalano has been a significant supporter of Geroux and his current surge of success.  As of Friday, the two are winning 56% of their races together (nine starts).  “When you ride for Catalano, you know the horse is going to be ready.  You might have some pressure going off as the favorite, but you know it’ll be a good horse,” the jockey stated. 

Geroux also has received a great deal of support from Doug Matthews, with three wins in 20 rides for the conditioner, and Roger Brueggemann, for whom he has ridden six winners in 19 starts.  Brueggemann often provides horses owned by the expansive powerhouse stable Midwest Thoroughbreds. “I’m very happy to be riding a few horses for Midwest Thoroughbreds.  They have good horses and I’m lucky enough to be picked to ride them.” 

For about two years, Geroux has had a productive and successful relationship with Doug Bredar, his agent.  Bredar, a respected and affable personality around the track, has helped to engineer what has been a remarkable turnaround for the young jockey.  In 2012, thanks in part to the aforementioned injury, Geroux scored at an ordinary 12% and ended the season with 25 wins.  As of Friday, Geroux has 19 wins and is striking at nearly 20% at this year’s meet.

“I think I have pretty good hands and can get tough horses to relax.  Some horses are complicated and I think sometimes trainers ride me because I can relax a horse and have soft hands,” he explained.  “I think a lot of (riding well) is luck and good horses, but if there’s one thing I can say I do well, it is that.”

Having such a style and affinity for relaxing an equine athlete is not a surprise, considering his European riding education.  “It took me a little while to adapt my riding style to American racing, but now it has changed and improved.  In Europe we go every direction – left and right turns, up and down (undulations),” Geroux explained.  “With riding here and being on tight ovals and dirt racing at Hawthorne (Race Course), I have become a much better jockey.  I ride with a lot more confidence.”

Like many young jockeys, Geroux looks to the elder stars of his trade to improve his own craft.  “I try to take a little bit of everyone’s style and try to learn from all the great jockeys.  I think it’s good to take a little bit of the good of every great jockey and learn what not to do when they do the wrong things,” he explained. 

With Geroux’s ability to settle on or off the lead and finish strongly, it is not surprising who he named as his favorite jockey.  “If I had to pick one, I would say Garrett Gomez.  I think he’s simply a very good all-around jockey who can relax a horse and is a very strong finisher.  He takes horses back really well and can adapt if he’s on the lead,” he elaborated. 

While Geroux has adapted well and loves the United States, especially Chicago, he is still a Frenchman at heart.  When asked if he would rather win the Kentucky Derby or the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, he was, as one would expect, frank.  “I can’t choose one.  I’m French, so I would love to win the Arc.  Most jockeys would say 100% Kentucky Derby, but me –I will just say that I can’t choose,” he laughed.

As far as his future, and possibly riding again (full-time) in Europe, Geroux is wisely laissez-faire.  “You never know what will happen.  If it happens, why not (go),” he asked rhetorically.  “It’s by contract over there, so it’s hard to just move there (without one) and make an impact.  But, who knows?  For now, my place is here. I have my family and really like it here – and I’m doing well.  I’m thankful to Doug and everyone who supports me, here.  Hopefully it keeps going well.”