In the Winner’s Circle
Greg Miles photo
Florent Geroux’s jockey career is truly off to the races. Track leader for the past two years, Geroux has made the Fairgrounds his winter home, when he’s not on a whirl-wind tour of international races.
A native of France, Geroux moved to the U.S. in 2007 after continuing his family’s tradition of training and jockeying horses. Since then, he has competed in the Breeder’s Cup, the Kentucky Derby, and the Louisiana Derby, to name a few.
Geroux completed his 1,000 race this past December at the Fairgrounds, marking a winning season. This fall and winter will mark Geroux’s fourth season riding in New Orleans, and while he hopes to stay on track with his victories, the chase is just as much fun as the win.
You started training to be a jockey at a very young age. Did you grow up in a family tradition of working with horses?
Yes. My father was a jockey. I went to jockey school when I turned 13. Before that, I wasn’t really into horse riding. I liked soccer. But I went to school and learned about both riding and taking care of horses.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The hardest part is keeping fit mentally. If you lose too many days in a row, it can be hard. But you have to remember that sometimes it’s all about the horse. If the horse is slow, there’s nothing you can do. On the other side, the more you win, the more your confidence grows and the better you get.
How do you develop a relationship with the horses you ride?
I work with them in the morning, with our daily exercise. I then ride them again in the afternoon. Some rides work out; sometimes it’s not a problem. But then again sometimes you can’t make them win. I try to get involved with them each morning.
What is the most exciting part of the race?
The most exciting part, of course, is the win. That’s all that counts, really, isn’t it? But truly, every race is different. With each race, it’s never a sure thing.
Have you ever been injured?
I have been injured; it’s part of the job. I’ve broken my back and my arm. It’s definitely a dangerous sport. The hardest part of being injured is trying to stay in shape and missing races.
How has living and racing in New Orleans been for you?
I’ve been in New Orleans for the past three winters. I find that people in the south are very friendly. It’s definitely a unique city, with lots of history. Some of it is French history. When we are here, we see a lot of music, and go to restaurants. We avoid the more tourist-driven areas for the most part. We like to hang out on Magazine Street or in Mid-City, where it’s a little more quiet.
At a Glance
Age: 31 Resides: Winter in New Orleans; Louisville, Kentucky the rest of the year Born: Normandy, France Favorite Book: I don’t read a lot of books, I read mostly newspapers Favorite movie: Gladiator Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones Favorite Food: Anything French Favorite New Orleans restaurant: G.W. Fins