Florent Geroux rode Gun Runner to Horse of the Year honors last year, earning his fourth career Breeders' Cup victory with that horse in the Classic (G1). The jockey teamed with Gun Runner for a victory in this year's $16 million Pegasus World Cup (G1), the world's richest race. He followed his third-straight Fair Grounds riding title with his first Keeneland crown, then a week later guided Monomoy Girl to victory May 4 in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1), recording his first success in America's most important race for 3-year-old fillies.
In a career that has really taken off over the past four years, the one thing escaping Geroux is winning a Triple Crown race. Now the French-born jockey is hoping Quip becomes his first Triple Crown event winner in the May 19 Preakness Stakes. Quip is trained by Geroux's countryman and close friend Rodolphe Brisset, the former assistant to Hall of Famer Bill Mott who went on his own a year ago.
“I'm excited. The horse is coming off a nice race in Arkansas,” Geroux said of Quip's performance in the Arkansas Derby, in which they finished four lengths behind Magnum Moon while holding off several horses to keep the runner-up spot. “The connections thought the horse needed some extra time, so they decided to get him ready for the Preakness.”
Asked his bottom line on the Arkansas Derby, Geroux said, “He got outrun by a nice horse. Magnum Moon ran a very big race that day. But our horse is a very nice horse, too. He hung in pretty gamely for second. I think now anything is possible. Some of the horses ran really hard in the Derby and now they have to run back in two weeks. Us, we'll be at five weeks. The horse is fresh, and we're hoping we can turn the table with some of them.”
Geroux acknowledged “it's a big hole” when a special horse such as Gun Runner is retired to stud duties.
“Everywhere you went, you knew he was going to win pretty much,” he said. “So that was a big hole to fill. I was lucky enough to get on Monomoy Girl. I think she'll be very salty this year. And I've got a nice 3-year-old in Quip.”
Geroux said he thinks winning that first Triple Crown race is one of the hardest things for a jockey to do.
“It would be nice to win one right away and be over with it,” Geroux said with a laugh. “Looks like I'm having to chase it a little bit, like many jockeys do. Look at Mike Smith. It took him a very long time to win his first Derby (with Giacomo in 2005), and he thought it would never happen again. And now he has a second one (with Justify), which shows you how hard it is.
“You work hard every day, but you need to get lucky,” he added. “That's a big part of the game: Getting on the right horse at the right time. Hopefully one day it will be my turn.”
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