Go East Young Men: Prat, Rispoli Leaving Southern California - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Go East Young Men: Prat, Rispoli Leaving Southern California

Flavien Prat

Leading Southern California jockey Flavien Prat told Daily Racing Form's Steve Andersen on Saturday night he will be heading East to ride at the Keeneland spring meet in Lexington, Ky., before relocating to New York for the remainder of the year. The news came just days after reports that Umberto Rispoli will also be leaving Southern California for New York next month.

Prat, a finalist for the 2021 Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey won by Joel Rosario, will continue to be represented by Brad Pegram, hired by Prat in February 2021 to replace his longtime agent Derek Lawson. Prat said the move is designed to improve his chances for year-end honors.

“It feels like if you want to give yourself a chance to get an Eclipse Award that you need to go to New York,” Prat told DRF. “That's just the way it is. I never thought I'd leave here, to be honest.”

Pegram told Mike Willman on the Thoroughbred Los Angeles radio show on Sunday morning that Prat will ride at Belmont and Saratoga but plans to return to ride the winter meet at Santa Anita.

A champion apprentice in his native France, Prat, 29, began riding full time in Southern California in 2015 and has been leading rider at virtually every major meet there. His two Grade 1 wins on Saturday raised his career total to 46 wins at that level and includes victories in the 2021 Preakness aboard Rombauer, the 2019 Kentucky Derby via disqualification on Country House and three Breeders' Cup races.

Prat is leading the current Santa Anita jockey standings in a runaway: 60-35 over Juan Hernandez. His win percentage is 31% this meet.

Rispoli, a 33-year-old native of Naples, Italy, has ridden around the world with stops in Italy, France, England, Australia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong before coming to the U.S. to ride full time in December 2019. He battled Prat for leading rider honors throughout the 2020 Del Mar summer season, falling one win shy, 50-49. Rispoli is currently seventh in the Santa Anita standings with 15 wins from 113 mounts.

Mike Sellitto will handle Rispoli's business while continuing to book mounts for Junior Alvarado. Sellitto said Rispoli and his family will likely head to New York after the Santa Anita Derby day card on April 9.

“He is an all-around good rider – on dirt and turf,” Sellitto said, “and very strong. He's really gung-ho and has a hungry attitude. He wants to compete for leading rider.”

Rock Your World and Umberto Rispoli win the 2021 Santa Anita Derby
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