FRENCH CONNECTION AT KENTUCKY DOWNS
There will be a “French Connection” in Franklin, Kentucky this week, but it has nothing to with Gene Hackman or the Oscar winning 1971 film.
When horses are called to post at Kentucky Downs on September 12, one of the jockeys might just have a slight advantage. Flying Frenchman Flavien Prat will ride seven different horses as they run over the only European style turf course in the United States. Having cut his teeth in Thoroughbred horse racing as one of the most successful apprentice jockeys in French history, the native of Melun, France is familiar with the undulations a course of this nature can offer.
“I have never been to Kentucky Downs so I am not sure exactly how the course plays,” says the 23-year old Prat. “I may have some advantage however because of being more familiar with this style of track. I am excited to see how things work out.”
If history is any indication, Prat will be just fine for a couple of reasons. First, fellow Frenchman Florent Geroux had a huge day at Kentucky Downs on September 5 when he won five races on the day with three consecutive stakes wins. That followed a big 2014 season at the Franklin track when he booted home four winners in fifteen mounts during the five-day meet.
“I hope we can be as good as the other part of the French Connection,” laughs Prat. “I am just going to try and be the best I can like always and hopefully it will be good enough.”
Lately, Pratt has been plenty good enough. The recently completed Del Mar meet served as the coming out party for this fantastically cool Frenchman. Prat finished second in the jockey standings (30 wins) for the 2015 summer at the Seaside Oval. Riding for Southern California mainstays like Richard Mandella, Doug O’Neill and Jerry Hollendorfer, Prat did not disappoint. Finishing with rides sweeter than a French pastry, Flavien won 11 races during the final 6 days of the meet.
“I am just very fortunate to be riding good horses for good people,” downplays Prat. “It was a real honor to ride at Del Mar and we are hoping to be even better in the future.”
As one of the hottest jockeys in the game and with European experience, Flavien Pratt looks like a natural for Kentucky Downs. The big race of the day is the grade 3 mile and a half Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes. The Flying Frenchman will be aboard the Neil Drysdale trained Power Ped who is at 6 to 1 on the morning line. What does that mean for those looking to prognosticate on the ponies? Well just maybe the French can help you connect with a winning ticket come September 12!
Post time for the first race at Kentucky Downs is slated for 1:35pm.