Jockey Florent Geroux’s bags were packed when he arrived to Churchill Downs on Wednesday for racing as the 31-year-old Frenchman was anticipating his flight to Del Mar to ride Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimney Farm’s Gun Runner in the Grade I, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“The anticipation has been killing me,” Geroux said. “I can’t wait to get out to California to ride this race.”
Arguably one of the biggest mounts in Geroux’s career, Gun Runner was made the 9-5 morning line favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic as he looks to avenge his loss to 2-1 second choice Arrogate from March’s $10 million Dubai World Cup (GI).
“This could be the ride of my life,” Geroux joked. “The way this horse has been improving in each start this year leads me to believe we are coming into this race with a different type of horse. He’s much bigger and stronger as the year has been progressing. I’ve noticed a lot of maturity in him as well. Before he was like a teenager that had some natural talent but now he’s putting everything together.”
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner arrived in California more than a month ago from his home base at Churchill Downs but Geroux flew to the West Coast for his last two breezes.
“I’ll tell you what, if he runs to the way he’s been training it’s going to be very tough to beat us,” Geroux said. “He’s handled things very well out in California and has been traveling well over the surface. I’m very pleased with the way he’s coming into the race. A large credit has to go to Steve and his team for the job they’ve done training him.”
Geroux has ridden Gun Runner in his last 14 starts that have resulted eight victories, three runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes.
A native of Normandy, France, Geroux grew up with a racing background; his father, Dominique, is a former jockey and trainer. Geroux entered jockey school at age 13 and was the leading apprentice in France by the time he was 19 years old.
Like fellow French-rider Julien Leparoux, Geroux began exercising horses in California for trainer Patrick Biancone. Following a couple of injuries and troubles with his work Visa, Geroux returned to Europe for several months before coming back to the United States.
Geroux teamed with agent Doug Bredar in 2010 and shifted his tack to Churchill Downs in 2015.
“I got introduced to Flo in 2010 at Gulfstream Park,” Bredar said. “I actually ran into Patrick Biancone in an elevator and he told me to stop by the barn one morning and I’ve represented him since.
“I don’t know if I’m more nervous or excited for Gun Runner but it should be a great weekend.”