12/20/2011 4:31PM

Hawthorne: Geroux to ride at Oaklawn for Midwest

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Four-Footed Fotos
Florent Geroux pilots Pachattack to victory in the Arlington Matron.

Jockey Florent Geroux will be riding at Oaklawn Park for the first time when the Hot Springs, Ark., track opens Jan. 13, but he figures to make an immediate impact. Geroux has signed on to be first-call rider for Midwest Thoroughbreds, the nation’s leading stable in wins and earnings that also accounted for this year’s owner title at Oaklawn. 

The relationship will be an extension of an alliance formed this past fall at Hawthorne near Chicago. Geroux, 25, has been teaming with Midwest, operated by Richard and Karen Papiese, on a regular basis since October. With the stable’s support, he has a 14-win lead in the Hawthorne standings heading into the final stretch of the meet that ends Dec. 31. The next stop will be Oaklawn.

“I’m coming because Mr. and Mrs. Papiese asked me to go,” Geroux said. “We had a lot of success together here at Hawthorne this meet. A lot of my winners are because of them. I appreciate what they did for me.”

Midwest’s division at Oaklawn will be trained by Jamie Ness and Brad Cox, according to Doug Bredar, who is Geroux’s agent. Bredar and Geroux have been working together for about 12 months, and next week the rider will close out what has been the best year of a career launched in France in 2004. 

Geroux, who is from Argentan, near Normandy, has won 136 races and compiled more than $3 million in mount earnings through Tuesday. He won the Grade 3, $300,000 Illinois Derby aboard Joe Vann in April, and a month later took the Grade 3 Arlington Matron with Pachattack. Geroux is now in good position to win the first title of his career at Hawthorne.

“It’s been Christmas every day,” he said.

Geroux is the son of Dominique Geroux, a noted jockey who became a trainer and is now retired. The younger Geroux followed his father into the business, first attending a jockey school in France for three years, starting at 13. He began race-riding at 17, and registered his first winner at Longchamp. In 2005, Geroux established himself as the top apprentice in France. He won 43 races in his home country that year, which placed him 19th in the overerall jockey standings in France, according to statistics from the International Racing Bureau. Geroux eventually traveled to the United States, and in 2007 went to work as an exercise rider for Patrick Biancone in Southern California.

“It’s a different riding style, and I wanted to learn, just get more experience,” he said.

In time, Geroux resumed race-riding and settled in Illinois, which is also the home base for Midwest.