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Barn Notes: Sunday, November 24
IN TODAY'S NOTES: Veteran Jockey David Flores Should Flourish at FG; Hall of Fame Jockey Kent Desormeaux Rides Four FG Mounts Sunday
Nationally recognized reins master David Flores is hanging his tack at Fair Grounds Racecourse & Slots on a season-long basis for the first time this winter, promising to be an additional star attraction in an already quality-laden jockey colony at the Crescent City oval.
Why the change from his base in Southern California where he has spent the majority of his career and boasts numerous riding titles earned during Santa Anita, Del Mar and Oak Tree meetings?
“It was just a matter of timing that I got the chance to try the New Orleans meeting,” said Flores, who arrived in town last week from his Arcadia, California, home. “When the California circuit moved on to the fairs for a while earlier in the year I got the chance to go to France for several weeks last summer and rode some horses for (trainer) Wesley Ward while I was there. He told me at the time if I wanted to ride back east for a while he would use me on his horses there. I rode several horses for him at Churchill, Keeneland and Kentucky Downs and that fit nicely with riding in New Orleans this winter.
“My agent in Kentucky was Jay Fedor, and Jay and Wesley are good friends,” Flores said. “Wesley and Jay suggested I try New Orleans this winter and it seemed like a good idea.
“Jay is one of the best in the business,” Flores said of Fedor, who has teamed to win riding titles with the late Michael Baze, Chris Emigh and others at places like Arlington and Oaklawn Park. “Jay and I decided it was the right time to come to Fair Grounds this winter and fortunately we’ve gotten off to a good start.”
Flores won the second race on opening day last Friday aboard Lucky Man Racing and Howard Durand’s Leroixdessioux ($10.80) for trainer Tom Clark with his first mount of the meeting and came back Saturday to win the third with Dan Lynch, Ken Sentel and Merrill Scherer’s Blue Cliff ($10.60) for conditioner Merrill Scherer,as well as that day’s finale astride Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Squall Line ($14.60)for 13-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Steve Asmussen.
“I got to New Orleans Wednesday and worked some horses Thursday and Friday,” Flores said. “I worked some more horses Saturday morning after all that rain Friday and I was surprised at how good the track was. This track really has a great drainage system.”
With well over 3,500 career wins, the 45-year-old Flores, born in Tijuana, Mexico, as the son of a former jockey, is looking forward to the 4,000 win milestone.
“I love my job,” said Flores, who has ridden the winners of three Breeders Cup races, three Hollywood Gold Cups, three Eddie Read handicaps andthree Del Mar futurities as well as one Arlington Million, one Pacific Classic and one Kentucky Oaks among countless other stakes during his illustrious career so far. He also rode 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta during the first three starts of her career.
Before arriving here for the current Fair Grounds season, could Flores recall the last time he came to New Orleans to ride a stakes horse here?
“I think it was in 2010 when I rode (Arnold Zetcher’s) Zardana to upset (2009 Horse of the Year)Rachel Alexandra (in Fair Grounds’ inaugural $200,000 New Orleans Ladies,)” Flores said.
“I love the atmosphere here at Fair Grounds,” Flores concluded. “It’s a great environment. However, they told me to be careful about all the good food they have down here because I have to be strict and watch my weight. I think that was probably very good advice.”
HALL OF FAME JOCKEY KENT DESORMEAUX RIDES FOUR FG MOUNTS SUNDAY —Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux,a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, rode four mounts Sunday at Fair Grounds while passing through to visit his family for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Desormeaux is the younger brother of Fair Grounds-based trainer Keith Desormeaux, most recently prominent for saddling Big Chief Racing’s Ive Struck a Nerve to win last spring’s Grade III Risen Star Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day, when that sophomore paid a season-high win price of $272.40.
Three of the four Hall of Fame rider’s scheduled mounts Sunday were for his older brother, with the other mount being for New Orleans-born trainer Wayne Catalano in the first race of the day.