‘I Think The Colony Is Very Good’: Del Mar Fall Meet Prat’s Launching Pad To Santa Anita Meet

It’s quite possibly a Southern California jockey’s worst nightmare. Flavien Prat returning to ride at Del Mar. When we last saw Prat riding on the West Coast he was dominating the jockey standings, running together a string of riding titles at both Del Mar and Santa Anita.

So when he picked up and left for the East Coast last April, there was a collective sigh of relief in the jocks room and several riders gathered their tack and moved to Del Mar for the summer meet in hopes of filling the void left behind by Prat.

But this fall, for a number of reasons, Prat has decided to return to Del Mar and afterward, spend the winter at Santa Anita.

“First because it’s home, I have my house here,” Prat explained when asked why he made the move. “Del Mar has always been a very good meet. There’s always good horses. Then the Santa Anita winter meet is always a strong meet.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. continues to dominate Belmont Park and Saratoga in much the same way Prat dominated when he was riding on the West Coast. But Prat did very well in New York finishing second to Ortiz in number of wins at Belmont Park’s spring meet and then runner-up again to Ortiz at Saratoga over the summer. Prat slipped to seventh in the jockey standings at the just concluded Belmont Park at Aqueduct meet.

“I really enjoy riding over there,” Prat said. “The main key for us riders is as long as you ride good horses, it’s fun, but if you don’t ride good horses it’s a different deal. I went back east and had the support of multiple trainers.”

He said it took a bit of an adjustment to riding fulltime in New York.

“The tracks are a bit slower on the East Coast,” Prat said, “so they train differently, which means they run differently.”

Prat currently sits second in the nation in earnings for the year with $27,822,732 behind, who else, Ortiz. He’s tied with Edwin Maldonado for second in the Del Mar jockey standings with four wins. Among his mounts this year, he was the regular rider of undefeated Flightline, the world’s best racehorse who was based in California with trainer John Sadler until his recent retirement after winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland.

“Trainers who have been a big part of my success here in California have been supporting me since I came back, and I’m really grateful for that,” Prat said.

Like so many of the jockeys in horse racing, Prat started at an early age.

“My dad is a harness trainer so I’ve always been around horses,” Prat says. “I started doing pony races and then when I got to 14 I got to go to jockey school. I started riding in France when I was 16.”

He credits his success on the track to his childhood.

“I think it’s a huge edge to have the chance to grow around horses,” Prat said, “and learn how to ride early.”

Prat was not the only New York rider to relocate to southern California this fall. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has also made the temporary move, making the Del Mar jockey colony as competitive as ever, joining such emerging stars as Juan Hernandez and Umberto Rispoli.

“I think the colony is very good,” Prat said. “It’s been a year or two now of different riders coming into the states and riding here. I think it’s great.”

Prat intends to keep the same timeline he used last year, riding at Santa Anita until April and then riding at Keeneland before returning to New York when Belmont Park opens for its spring meet.

The post ‘I Think The Colony Is Very Good’: Del Mar Fall Meet Prat’s Launching Pad To Santa Anita Meet appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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