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Barn Notes: Wednesday, November 20
In Today's Notes: Jockey Florent (Frenchy) Geroux New Rider at FG; Delaunay, Gantry Likely for Another Thanksgiving Handicap Duel November 28
Jockey Florent (Frenchy) Geroux, born in the historic town of Argentan in France’s Normandy region, has been a regular rider on the Chicago circuit for seven seasons, but the first time he set foot on the Fair Grounds property was when he drove through the stable gate Monday night.
“I had the most successful meet of my career at Arlington last summer,” said Geroux. “I finished second in purse earnings and third in number of wins, so with that momentum I felt now was a good opportunity for me to try a place like Fair Grounds with its high-class racing.”
The son of famous French former jockey Dominique Geroux boasts a leading rider title at Hawthorne in the fall of 2011 and capped off his most recent Arlington summer with two graded stakes win in the closing days of that session. One came aboard Marshall E. Dowell’s’ Wayne Catalano-trained Solitary Ranger in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity and the other astride Hit The Board Stable’s Catalano-conditioned I’m Already Sexy in the Grade III Pucker Up.
Interestingly, the filly is nominated to Fair Grounds Pago Hop Stakes on Nov. 29 although her most recent start in Churchill’s Grade II Mrs. Revere last Saturday would make an appearance in the Pago Hop extremely unlikely.
During the 2012 Arlington season, Geroux won the first graded stakes of that summer’s local season by annexing the Grade III Hanshin Cup on Silverton Hills’ Havelock, but was quickly sidelined for much of the meet when less than a month later he broke his collarbone during a race at the northwest suburban oval.
“That turned out to be a major setback for me because all the horses I was supposed to ride before I got hurt came back and won,” Geroux said. “Until that happened, I was on my way to having a very good summer that year.”
Geroux’s agent is Doug Bredar, who served as the racing secretary at Louisiana Downs in 2007-2008 for two thoroughbred meetings and one quarter-horse session.
“Obviously, because of that, I know a lot of the local horsemen here very well,” said Bredar, “but in addition to that I must say that the people who don’t know us have been very positive in their reception.
“Frenchy and I both felt it was time for us to try and try some bigger and better things this winter, especially since Hawthorne has been watching their purses very carefully,” Bredar concluded. “We had to stay and ride the night card at Churchill last Saturday, but we’re here now and ready to get going. We have some good outfits behind us like Wayne Catalano, Doug Matthews, Mike Stidham and Michelle Lovell, so we are both looking forward to the Fair Grounds season.”
DELAUNAY, GANTRY LIKELY FOR ANOTHER THANKSGIVING HANDICAP DUEL —Tradition-rich stakes racing at the 142nd season at Fair Grounds Racecourse & Slots is expected to continue on Thanksgiving Day with the winners of the last two editions of the $100,000 Thanksgiving Handicap matching strides in that historic race’s 88th running on Nov. 28.
Maggi Moss’s Delaunay, winner of last year’s renewal, used that outing as a springboard to other scores in last season’s $75,000 F. W. Gaudin Memorial as well as the $150,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes. The sweep of the sprint stakes troika led to the Tom Amoss trainee’s eventual election as Horse of the Meeting at the Crescent City oval. Amoss, a 10-time trainer champion at Fair Grounds, tied for that title last season.
Brittlyn Stable’s Gantry, conditioned by Ron Faucheux, annexed the 2011 Thanksgiving Handicap and 2012 Duncan Kenner, but was second to Delaunay in all three of those sprint stakes last season.
Delaunay, idle since finishing fourth in Saratoga’s Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap last August, breezed a half-mile in 48:40 last Saturday at Fair Grounds.
Gantry’s last start resulted in a 4 ½-length tally in the $50,000 Temperance Hill Stakes at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 7.
Gustav Schickendanz and Donald Howard’s Say No More, a 5-year-old Ontario-bred gelding trained by Michael Keogh, is also considered likely at this time for the Thanksgiving Handicap. Say No More most recently was unplaced in Belmont’s $100,000 Duck Dance Stakes Oct. 6.
George Kerry’s Good Morning Diva, trained by Rick Hiles and winner of Churchill’s $60,000 Bet On Sunshine Nov. 2 and third in the Twin Spires oval’s Grade III Ack Ack Stakes before that, is considered a possibility for the Thanksgiving Handicap, as is Kirk and Robison’s Mico Margarita, runner-up in Saratoga’s Grade II Amsterdam last July and conditioned by 12-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Steve Asmussen, who tied for that title last season.