It's Florent Geroux's world right now, and we're all well behind in the stretch.
“I'm looking for prestige now,” the rider said Friday.
At Churchill Downs, Geroux had just affixed another big piece of the puzzle.
Taking the mount on Monomoy Girl, the pair blazed a field of 13 rivals in a 1:49.13 jaunt to win the 2018 Kentucky Oaks. The 3-year-old daughter of Tapizar — owned by Michael Dubb and Monomoy Stables, LLC — dueled Wonder Gadot down a thrilling stretch run, getting the better of the 16-1 shot at the wire.
“I couldn't be any happier; it's just a dream come true,” said a jubilant Geroux after the race. “I have been very lucky and fortunate to win some of the biggest races in the world, but this one feels extra special.”
On top of the racing world with his Oaks win, the 31-year-old jockey has had his fair share of ebbs and flows since making a 2007 trek from France to the states, and nothing has sparked the imagination of American horse racing fans more than his magical partnership with Gun Runner. He and the now-retired colt stormed the field for last year's Breeders' Cup and Pegasus.
Don't be fooled, however. The small wins are just as big for the covetous jockey.
“Any race you win is a good race,” Geroux said last year after winning the Indiana Derby last year with the late Irap. “Like anybody, I want to win as many rides as I can; I just want to get the best out of [my] horse and earn my trip to the winner's circle.”
The East Coast jockey has been incendiary since 2014, with 791 winning mounts, including four Breeders' Cup wins, a second-place finish in the Dirt Mile and a third-place finish aboard Gun Runner in the Kentucky Derby to add.
“I got some of the biggest [races] in the country,” said Geroux, who is winning at a career-best clip of 21% this year. “I guess now give me more credibility, and thank God to Gun Runner.”
“You couldn't ask for a better rider. (Florent) is a winner,” said trainer Steve Asmussen of Geroux after he and Gun Runner galloped to the tune of a 2:01.29 final time over then-rival Arrogate in last year's Breeders' Cup classic.
Sol Kumin, co-owner of Monomoy Girl, told reporters Friday, “we've won a lot of races with him."
The native of Argentan, France, is seeking more. He'll ride the most prestigious race Saturday.
"The (Kentucky) Derby is definitely, very high on my list," Geroux said. “You know, that's the race every jockey here dreams [of] and would love to ride.”
Geroux will get his chance on Saturday when he mounts 30-1 longshot Noble Indy. It will mark his first time on the Todd Pletcher-trained son of Take Charge Indy.
“Noble Indy is a little bit different,” Geroux said of the arduous task ahead of him tomorrow. “It's a horse I have never ridden before. It's a horse who is coming in good shape, and a horse [who has] won one of the major preps, the Louisiana Derby. There is not much to knock against him.”
Nor is there much to knock about Geroux, who, while the odds will be stacked against him Saturday, has overcome enough — with or without a Kentucky Derby win — to etch his name among the sports finest jockeys, and at his young age, the achievements are bound to flow.
“You want a guy with experience, but you don't want a guy who's too old and beat up,” explained the self-assured jockey, “and I feel like I'm in that group right now. I pray have more years to beat the other guys.”