Riders Florent Geroux and James Graham are locked in a tied battle at the top of the local jockey standings with 35 wins apiece through the card of Thursday July 3. Graham, who has consistently been a force in the standings at Arlington International Racecourse for many years - including leading in purses earned for three of the past five years - has 800 career victories at the Chicagoland oval, which is 10th all-time. The Irish-born beacon of consistency also landed the riding title for wins in 2011.
The younger Geroux, on the other hand, has been an improving sort year-by-year. In 2013, the native of Normandy, France, was third in the standings behind Emmanuel Esquivel and Graham. In 2014, the 27-year-old launched to an auspicious start at the Arlington meet, quickly establishing a lead and visibly riding with great confidence for a variety of trainers.
“With time comes that experience,” said agent Doug Bredar. “Two years ago we were convinced he was going to have a great summer and then he unfortunately broke his collarbone. That’s racing, but we have definitely recovered. His hands are very good, he gets horses of all kinds to relax and they almost all close for him. If there’s one thing I’ve seen him visibly improve upon it’s his overall strength. He’s developed a very strong left and right whip to him.”
With such ambidextrous technical talents, in addition to his aforementioned poise, Geroux has definitely received the support of numerous local horsemen. “With higher positions in the standings and him riding well, you get better business and greater opportunities,” Bredar explained.
“I would say that going to the Fair Grounds instead of going to Hawthorne this winter opened up some doors for us,” Bredar continued. “We made our presence felt and people started realizing he could ride. Even though there was a grass course issue at the track, we still managed to win 30 races. People started paying attention.
“In the same way, even though we didn’t do that great at Keeneland this Spring, it was a similar effect. We shook a lot of hands and met a lot of people. We didn’t have the most successful meet, but we certainly met new owners and trainers who are now giving us a shot. That’s made a huge difference for him. Hopefully we can keep it up and win the meet,” Bredar concluded.
Geroux and Graham head into the weekend with filled dance cards. By the end of the Independence Day Friday, though, Geroux will have eight chances to Graham’s four to retake his lead at the top of the colony.