In addition to the quality field of 3-year-olds set to compete Super Derby 39 on Sunday at Harrah's Louisiana Downs, fans will also have the opportunity to see one of the eminent riders in North America. Florent Geroux will make his Louisiana Downs debut on Sunday with six mounts on the Super Derby card. Born in Normandy, France, Geroux was a top apprentice in France in 2005 and has steadily ascended to the highest echelon since relocating to the United States a decade ago. He is currently ranked third in earnings in the North American Equibase standings behind the prolific brothers, Jose and Irad Ortiz.
In Sunday's Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby, Geroux will ride High North for owners Shortleaf Stables, Inc. and trainer Brad Cox. Bred in Kentucky, the colt by Midnight Lute won the $250,000 Iowa Derby on July 5, and was third in the Grade 3, $500,000 West Virginia Derby on August 4.
“I've ridden him several times; he's a very nice horse,” said Geroux. “Maybe the only disappointing race was the Peter Pan (at Belmont last May). It might have been a little long for him, but he ran big in the Iowa Derby.”
In addition to High North, Geroux will also pilot Hachi in the $60,000 River Cities and Big Changes in the $60,000 Unbridled for Cox. He also has two mounts for trainer Scott Gelner: Taylor's Spirit in the $60,000 Happy Ticket and Future Abundance in the $60,000 Sunday Silence, and will ride Bionic Butterfly for conditioner Steve Flint in the $60,000 Elge Rasberry.
While Sunday marks his first appearance at Louisiana Downs, there is a compelling Super Derby connection this weekend for Geroux. On Saturday, he will ride 2017 Super Derby champion Mr. Misunderstood in the $750,000 Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs. The noted turf specialist will be seeking his seventh stakes win since his victory here one year ago for trainer Brad Cox and his owner, Staton Flurry.
“For sure the Super Derby was great for Mr. Misunderstood,” said Geroux. “He's been an amazing horse for Brad and Staton.”
Geroux won the 2016 and 2017 leading rider titles at Fair Grounds, and completed this year's meet as the top money-earning jockey at the New Orleans racetrack.
Always popular with horseplayers, Geroux jetted to Sam Houston Race Park last January, the morning after winning the $16 Million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park aboard Gun Runner. Most riders might have preferred to remain in the jocks room and catch a quick nap, but Geroux graciously did interviews and signed autographs for racing fans.
“You have to support the fans,” he said. “They are very important to our sport and I always try to meet them when I can.”
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