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Dangerous Occupation

Posted by on 9/22/2015 8:41:19 PM

Pound for pound jockeys could very well be the best athletes on the planet and like police officers and firemen, they put their lives on the line every day.

Last week at Los Alamitos, a spill involving a pair of up and coming riders will have ramifications on the Southern California jockey colony for months to come.

Flavien Prat was riding a first-time starter named Discreetly Humor when the runner tripped and fell approaching the turn and another runner, Lucky Snow, was unable to avoid the fallen horse and also went down.

Mark Glatt trains both horses and Santiago Gonzalez was aboard Lucky Snow.

Gonzalez was not seriously hurt but had to take a few days off while Prat took most of the damage.

He suffered a punctured lung and 5 vertebrae fractures and although no surgery will be required, he will need to wear a body brace for several months.

Prat’s agent, Derek Lawson, who also criticized Los Alamitos as to how then handled the accident, had an early update on his rider, Lawson: “He has movement in all of his extremities. He was given a chest tube to reinflate his lung. He was heavily sedated and resting comfortably.

Prat won his first race in the United States in 2010 at Santa Anita when just 17 years old and eyebrows were raised immediately. He guided Heavenly n’ Free to the wire first at 50-1 in the 5-horse field.

It was a harbinger of things to come. Prat eventually went back to Europe but could not land a top assignment from a good barn, so he returned to America and he has taken off.

When a respected Hall of Fame trainer is in your corner, it’s not a bad thing and Prat has Richard Mandella singing his praises. Mandella: “Near every horse he has ridden has outrun its price. It speaks to any rider’s talent. He’s phenomenal—dirt, turf, short, long. I haven’t found anything he doesn’t do well. I think he’s one of the stars of the future, and it might not even be in the future. He might be there now. I wouldn’t hesitate to ride him in any race in the world.”

Prat is coming off of his best meeting when he was 2nd to Rafael Bejarano at the Del Mar meeting. He finished 10 winners back, but also rode 29 fewer horses than Rafael.

As for Santiago Gonzalez he is also making waves.

He also had a break out meeting at Del Mar. He proved he has a solid judgment of pace and finished 7th in the standings without getting the prime mounts.

The sport came to Gonzalez rather him to the sport. His father and 2 older brothers worked at a racetrack in Venezuela and he started riding horses at the tender age of 12.

He won over 2,000 races in his native land including multiple Group 1s before making the move.

After watching his heroes Laffit Pincay Jr. and Angel Cordero win races on television, Gonzalez’ dream was to come to the United States.

He cut his teeth at Delaware and Gulfstream Park and his current agent Craig Stephen was contacted by former jockey agent Alex Procel and the move to California was in the mind.

Gonzalez is trying to follow in the footsteps of others like Junior Alvarado, Javier Castellano, Eibar Coa and Ramon Dominquez who all came from Venezuela to have successful careers in America.

Gonzalez is a man with a plan, a good background, and a hard-working attitude.

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