Florent Geroux rode Gun Runner to his final victory in the Pegasus World Cup and was voted Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for January 22-28, 2018. Panelists also expressed support and accolades for Luis Saez, with a remarkable number of wins, including seven in one day at Gulfstream. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America. Jockey of the Week is sponsored by Animal Element’s Foundation Detox and Product X Performance Enhancer.
There were many questions surrounding this year’s $16,300,000 Pegasus World Cup, most of which focused on the ability and post position of Gun Runner, the 4-5 morning line favorite. The 5-year-old horse was named 2017 Horse of the Year during the Eclipse Awards earlier in the week and was slated to break from post 10 his regular rider Florent Geroux aboard.
Geroux and Gun Runner broke sharply and gunned for the lead immediately, hooking up with Collected to run a ground-saving trip around the first turn. The pair dueled with Collected and Mike Smith before taking the lead, then repelled the charge of West Coast and Javier Castellano in the stretch. Though Geroux and Gun Runner won by over two lengths, a gap of ten more lengths separated West Coast from third place finisher Gunnevera.
It was an emotional win for all involved. The start was to be Gun Runner’s last before beginning the next chapter of his career as a stud at Three Chimneys. For Geroux, the race was a first – his first graded stakes win without the support of his father, Dominique, who passed away in December. In addition, Geroux passed the oral exam of his U.S. Citizenship test just a day before competing in the Pegasus.
Geroux may have only won two races of his 11 starts last week, but both wins were graded stakes, each at a different track. On Sunday, Geroux traveled to compete at Sam Houston in the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic. He and Brad-Cox trained Tiger Moth ($36.60) defeated post-time favorite Actress, with Jose Ortiz aboard, by a neck. In last year’s running of the Houston Ladies Classic, Ortiz and Unbridled Mo pulled the upset over Geroux aboard the heavily-backed I’m a Chatterbox.
Geroux was the leading rider by both stakes and total earnings, adding $7,270,273 to his career earnings, which now total $67,398,100.
Geroux was not the only standout performer of the week. Panelists were divided between Geroux and Luis Saez, a certain winner on nearly any other ballot.
Saez led all North American jockeys by wins last week, with 15 in 42 starts. On Wednesday, Saez won seven races in one card at Gulfstream Park, tying a record first set by Jerry Bailey and also matched by Tyler Gaffalione.
Saez had a live longshot mount in the Pegasus World Cup: Gunnevera. The 4-year-old competed on the 2017 Triple Crown trail and finished second behind West Coast in the Travers. He was one of only three horses in the Pegasus with any significant Gulfstream experience, which showed on Saturday as he finished third behind Gun Runner and West Coast.
Earlier on the card, Saez won the $175,000 Fred W. Hooper Stakes with Tommy Macho ($6.20). Thanks to that win and his placing in the Pegasus, he was the third leading rider by stakes earnings for the week, with $1,407,280 and third by total earnings, with $1,672,940. Saez is the leading rider at the current Gulfstream meet by wins.
JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of TVG, America’s Best Racing, The Daily Racing Form, Equibase, Horse Racing Nation, The Jockeys’ Guild, The Paulick Report, The Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.