By Alicia Wincze Hughes (The Bloodhorse)
Once the seal was broken, the milestones came raining down on jockey Florent Geroux as if trying to make up for lost time.
Not until his seventh full season in the saddle did the native of France earn his first grade 1 win—in the 2014 Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint, no less. Since then, Geroux has gone about collecting top-level prizes like a man auditioning for an episode of “Hoarders,” crowding his résumé with such feats as a regular engagement aboard the reigning Horse of the Year, a Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) win, and victory in the world’s richest race.
This month, another domino was kicked over by Geroux’s boot when his fearless handling of Monomoy Girl allowed him to celebrate his first win in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1). He leads all riders in North American earnings for 2018 and is on pace to better his own single-season monetary mark. Barely a decade into his career, he is running low on significant obstacles still to conquer—save for three big stumbling blocks designed to make the best of the best question if they’ve met their match.
Few moments in horse racing can elicit an emotional response like a win in one of the Triple Crown races—see the normally stoic Todd Pletcher after the 2007 Belmont Stakes (G1). Where Geroux has had enough fist-pumping moments in recent years to dislodge a shoulder, a victory in one of the classics is among his career orders that needs filling.
His latest chance will come May 19 at Pimlico Race Course aboard graded stakes victor Quip in the Preakness Stakes (G1), when he attempts to stop the big red train that is unbeaten Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner Justify. Though his sample size in the five-week gauntlet is relatively small—consisting of just seven prior rides in Triple Crown races, including two Preakness mounts—Geroux has seen enough of his brethren chase these jewels to know that proper perspective is as valuable as an agile mount.