A year ago, jockey Flavien Prat was in a body brace recuperating from five broken vertebrae in his back and a punctured lung after a September spill at Los Alamitos. It forced him to miss the 2015 Breeders’ Cup in Kentucky.
Now the 24-year-old French native is back with a vengeance. He has 10 scheduled mounts for this weekend’s two-day event at Santa Anita, making it his first appearance in the Breeders’ Cup.
“It is a special event,” he said. “I have some pretty nice shots on horses who have improved a lot during the year.”
Prat finished in a tie for first place in the jockey standings at Del Mar and has been gaining growing respect among top trainers in Southern California. He’ll be riding horses for Bob Baffert, Richard Mandella and Phil D’Amato, among others.
He and two other former French-based jockeys, Julien Leparoux and Florent Geroux, have been making names for themselves in America with their riding skills and will be reunited this weekend.
Leparoux and Geroux have one advantage over Prat.
“I think they have the best English over me,” he said. “I try to improve. It’s my home now. I’ve been here for two years.”
California Chrome continued his prep for Saturday’s $6-million Classic. He took it easy with a 1 5/8 mile gallop.
“In the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic he only got beat by a neck, but he wasn’t at his best mentally,” trainer Art Sherman said. “He shipped around a lot that year and went through the Triple Crown races. There is such a difference between how he’s coming into this year’s Classic and then.”
Metaboss, a 4-year-old colt, suffered a chipped sesamoid during morning workouts and was immediately retired. The horse will not need surgery but his racing career is over.
The horse, trained by Phil D’Amato, was not considered much of a factor for the Turf race. He had won three of 12 races and about $300,000. He was 30-1 on the morning line.