Flavien Prat certainly made his presence felt at Keeneland opening weekend. In fact, Prat has already jumped out to an early lead in the Keeneland jockey standings. With three graded stakes wins, Prat was voted Jockey of the Week for April 4 through April 10 by a panel of racing experts. The award honors jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 1050 active, retired and permanently disabled jockeys in the United States.
While Prat has been the dominant rider in Southern California in recent years, he made the decision to move his tack to Keeneland for the spring meet. After Derby week at Churchill Downs, he will ride regularly in New York.
On Saturday under cold and rainy conditions, Eclipse Award Trainer Brad Cox gave Prat a leg up on Just One Time in the Grade I Madison. Off as the slight favorite in the field of nine fillies and mares, Just One Time settled at the back of the pack. At the top of the stretch, Prat angled Just One Time to the outside and surged past the leader Bell’s the One in deep stretch to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:22.79 for the seven furlongs. “I was hoping to get a good break and get myself in the race,” said Prat. “Unfortunately, she broke a bit flat-footed, so we went with Plan B, and she ran really well in the stretch.”
Riding for trainer Chad Brown, Prat was aboard Zandon in Saturday’s feature, the Grade I Toyota Bluegrass. Zandon raced far back in the field of 11 but on the turn, Prat started to weave his way through traffic. Approaching the sixteenth pole. Zandon blew by favorite Smile Happy and drew off to an impressive 2-1/2 length win in a final time of 1:50.35 for the mile and one-eighth. “He broke just OK,” said Prat. “Then I got myself covered up so I was there with nothing I could do about it. It was just a matter of finding a gap and getting a clean run down the lane.”
On Sunday, trainer Brad Cox once again gave a leg up to Prat in the Grade III Beaumont Stakes on three-year-old filly Matareya. Off as the overwhelming favorite in the field of seven, Matareya stalked the early pace. At the top of the stretch, the pair took command and drew off to an 8 ½ length victory. “She broke really well and rated nice,” said Prat. “I was on cruise control all the way around.”
On his success opening weekend winning a total of seven races, Prat said, “To be honest, I was hoping to win a few races but it’s been great.” Just really pleased with the weekend.”
Prat’s statistics for the week were 21-7-2-4 with $1,368,380 in total purse earnings.
Other nominees for Jockey of the Week were Tyler Gaffalione with two graded stakes at Keeneland, Irad Ortiz, Jr. with three graded stakes at Keeneland, Joel Rosario who won the Gr. II Wood Memorial and Mike Smith with three stakes wins at Santa Anita including the Gr. I Santa Anita Derby.