by  (Paulick Report)

When Kentucky Oaks-winning jockey Florent Geroux rides at Ellis Park on Wednesday’s special Independence Day program, he’ll be celebrating his country’s birthday along with everyone else.

This is the first July 4 for the French-born Geroux as a United States citizen, having taken the Oath of Allegiance at the naturalization ceremony May 23 in Louisville.

“It means a lot,” Geroux, whose $13.4 million in purse earnings so far this year lead North America, said Sunday after riding at Ellis Park for the first time in his career. “I’ve been here for a while and my wife (Kasey) is from here. My kids were born here. So it means a lot. It took a while to get that, but I finally got citizenship. I’m excited about my first Fourth of July as a citizen.”

Geroux will again spend the summer riding at Saratoga before returning to Kentucky in September. But he rode Sunday and will again Wednesday at Ellis Park for one of his main clients, Brad Cox, for whom he rides Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl.

Geroux came to America in 2008. He waited for the oral-test portion of the citizenship process for more than a year. When it finally was scheduled, it landed Jan. 26 — the day before he was to ride Horse of the Year Gun Runner in Gulfstream Park’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup, the world’s richest race. The scheduling prevented him from attending the Eclipse Awards in Florida, where Gun Runner officially was crowned the best horse of 2017, as he had to be in Chicago for the test the next morning.