09/14/2011 1:26PM

Melancons have successful summer on two fronts

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BOSSIER CITY, La. – Father and son riding combinations, while uncommon, are not all that rare, especially in Louisiana which has produced so many jockeys through the years.

What is a bit unusual, is the magnitude of success Gerard Melancon and his son, Jansen, have had this summer while plying their trade at opposite ends of the state.

At Evangeline Downs, veteran Gerard Melancon occupied his usual position near the top of the standings all summer long. The winner of almost 3,800 career races eventually finished second – for the fourth year in a row – when the meet concluded last Saturday.

Meanwhile, 200 miles to the north at Louisiana Downs, Jansen Melancon, 23, is enjoying a breakout season. He ranks third in the standings behind longtime Louisiana Downs regulars Don Simington and Richard Eramia with two weeks remaining in the season.

Between them, the Melancons have won over 130 races at the two ovals this summer with mount earnings in excess of $2.3 million, including a father-son double at Louisiana Downs last Saturday when Gerard traveled up from Evangeline to ride on the Super Derby Program.

“We both have had good meets,” said the elder Melancon. “I’m riding where I’m going to be from now on, between here [Evangeline], and Delta. Jansen, he’s getting out away from home a little bit. That is how you learn.”

And learn he has. Jansen’s patient style, that has served him so well this summer, belies his young age.

“His riding style does seem to have matured,” Gerard said. “I think he has everything it takes to be a good rider and that includes a willingness to listen and get better. Plus he’s smarter than I ever was.”

In addition to getting advice from his father, Jansen has an excellent mentor in his agent, Ronald Ardoin. Ardoin won over 5,000 races in a long and distinguished career and is the winningest rider in Louisiana Downs history. He likes what he sees in young Melancon.

“He really has developed since I took his book when he got to Louisiana Downs toward the end of last season,” Ardoin said. “Jansen is truly a student of the game and a quick study. He has that will to learn and succeed. I think it is a real credit to Gerard and his upbringing.”

“I really am fortunate to have two good sources to draw from,” said Jansen. “Between Ronald and my dad, they have so many experiences. Ronald is also a terrific agent. All the connections he has, it has really helped my career. A good agent is just so important.”

Jansen also considers the summer he spent at Delaware Park last year a critical factor in his development.

“It was a great experience for me,” he said. “I was able to ride for a few Louisiana outfits that went up there as well as some new trainers. Establishing those kind of contacts and riding in a strong colony I think really helped me mature as a rider.”