Jockey David Flores will ride his first race since September of 2015 on Thursday at Belmont Park. He is named aboard Wesley Ward's Tree Top Lover in a maiden claiming event; the pair has been listed as the 7-5 morning line favorite. On Friday, he has another mount for Ward at Belmont, and Flores is named on two mounts for Buff Bradley at Ellis Park in Kentucky on Saturday.
Flores, 48, said he isn't mounting a comeback, however. The jockey has seen a great amount of success on the racetrack, with over 3,500 wins to his name and multiple riding titles across the state of California. He owns three Breeders' Cup victories and his career earnings are well over $150 million.
In December of 2013, Flores left the United States to ride in Singapore under what was originally a six-month contract. He ended up riding there regularly through early 2015, when the Singapore stewards assigned him a one-year ban for an alleged failure to “take all reasonable and permissible measures to obtain the best possible placing” in a February 22 race.
When Flores returned to California, the Singapore stewards requested that the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) demonstrate reciprocity for the one-year ban. Though the CHRB ultimately decided in May to overturn a ban they called “draconian” in nature, Flores had already been enraptured by a different sector of the Thoroughbred industry: the bloodstock industry.
He spent the winter of 2015 and spring of 2016 learning the pinhooking business (in this instance, “pinhooking” refers to purchasing yearlings with the intention of reselling them, hopefully at a profit, in the 2-year-old-in-training sales) with Becky Thomas' Sequel Bloodstock in Ocala, and today is continuing his education in an assistant trainer-type position with Wesley Ward in Kentucky. In Ward's employ, Flores has also been galloping and breezing horses, and the very light rider won't have any trouble making weight come Thursday.
Flores will ride a few horses for Ward from time to time, he said, but is mostly interested in picking up whatever information he can to one day pursue a career in the training or pinhooking business.
“I'm just going to try to learn whatever he has for me to learn,” Flores said of his time with Ward in a discussion with the Paulick Report earlier this month, available here. “It's a privilege to be around great people, great trainers, great human beings. They love the racing, they love the job with passion, and that's what I like about the industry. There's a lot of great people.”
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