By Hank Wesch

137099Twenty-two year old French-born jockey Flavien Prat scored his first two Del Mar wins Friday, guiding Xoxo for trainer Peter Miller in the fifth race and Baruta in the sixth for trainer Richard Mandella.

“Everybody knows it’s a great meeting so, yeah, it was very exciting for me,” Prat said of the wins. He credited the horses, more than anything he did, for the victories.

Prat was born in Melun, France, the son of a harness trainer. He has been around horses all his life. “I don’t know if I was born to be a jockey, but it was always in my mind,” Prat said. “I didn’t think of any other job.”

He rode his first winner at Fontainbleau, France in September of 2009 and came to the U.S. later that year, getting his first stateside opportunity at Hollywood Park and notching his first win on January 15, 2010 aboard Heavenly n’ Free ($103.40) at Santa Anita.

His riding itinerary since 2009 has been winters in the U.S. and summers in France until this year when he decided to come to Del Mar. French-born trainer Leonard Powell and Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella have been supporters since the start and his client list keeps growing. Veteran agent Derrick Lawson was initially drawn to Prat because Lawson is fluent in French and the combination has clicked to the point that Prat is No. 36 among North American jockeys in 2015 with 51 wins from 387 starts and earnings of $3,007,411.

“He’s a coming star, I think,” Mandella said. “He has been coming to work with me for the winters since he was 18. His record speaks for itself. Just a terrific, gifted rider and terrific person with it. I can’t say enough about him, I think the world of him.”

Prat recorded his first North American graded stakes win for Mandella aboard Catch a Flight in the Grade III Precisionist Stakes at Santa Anita on May 2 of this year and scored again for Mandella in the Grade III American Stakes a week later.

Prat rides Twentytwentyvision in Saturday’s Grade I Eddie Read Handicap.

“He (Twentytwentyvision) has been running very well in allowance races and it’s time to test the deeper waters,” Mandella said.