Jean-Luc Samyn celebrated his 55th birthday on Sunday by
taking out his license as a jockey agent, retiring from a riding career that
spanned more than 30 years on The New York Racing Association circuit.
“It is the right thing to do,” said Samyn, who will be
representing Filiberto Leon
in his return to riding at Aqueduct Racetrack. “I had said that if I was
able to walk away [from riding] when I was 55, that was the time to do
Samyn, who began riding in New York in
1976, won his first stakes race in 1978 aboard Jaipur’s Gem in the Carter
Handicap and in the ensuing years won dozens of stakes at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. Samyn
said he considers the highlight of his riding career to have come on a single
weekend in October of 2000, when he won the Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational
aboard John’s Call, the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational with Colstar and
the Grade 2 Kelso with Forbidden Apple.
“That was better than fabulous,” said Samyn. “To win
two Grade 1 races on one day, and then to come back the next day and win the
‘little’ $250,000 race was icing on the cake.”
Known for his prowess aboard turf horses – one well-known betting
angle was “Samyn on the Green” – he retired having ridden
2,613 winners of $94,135,156. After suffering the loss of two fingers on his
right hand in a snowblower accident earlier this year, Samyn curtailed his
riding considerably and compiled a mark of 4-5-6 from 81 starters in 2011.
“It’s very exciting to move on,” he said.
“Filiberto and I have been making the rounds and have gotten good
feedback. He’s looking to work hard, and so am I.”