Florent Geroux joined the lengthening list of prominent jockeys testing positive for COVID-19 over the past week, revealing his positive test results on Twitter Tuesday morning.

Florent Geroux-Coronavirus
Florent Geroux is the latest high-profile jockey to test positive for the coronavirus. He’s the sixth rider in the last week and ninth since March. (Image: Pat McDonogh/Courier-Journal)

Unlike Martin Garcia, Luis Saez, Victor Espinoza, and Flavien Prat – all of whom tested positive in the last week — Geroux didn’t ride on the July 4 card at Los Alamitos. That card, at that track, on that day, seems to be a veritable ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak among jockeys.

That muddies the infectious waters where Geroux could have contracted COVID-19, although he did ride with Saez at Indiana Grand on July 8 and at Keeneland on July 9. At Indiana Grand that day, Geroux won the Indiana Derby aboard Shared Sense. Keeneland officials pulled Saez from his mounts on July 10 after his positive test came back.

Otherwise, Geroux’s itinerary last week included Keeneland on July 9-10 and 12 and Belmont Park on July 11 where he rode standout mare Monomoy Girl to an easy victory in the Grade 2 Ruffian.

Prat also rode Keeneland on July 11 before he returned to California for eight mounts at Del Mar on Sunday. Instead, Del Mar officials subjected Prat to a mandatory coronavirus test since he rode outside of California. That came back positive, and he surrendered his Sunday mounts.

Geroux’s Travels Only Part of the Problem

The differing protocols from track to track, combined with jockeys hop-scotching around the country grabbing mounts at various stakes races, blew up cases among the country’s jockey colonies. For example, Keeneland made masks mandatory for riders, but Indiana Grand didn’t.

Keeneland’s strict protocols for its just-concluded five-day summer meet extended beyond racing without fans to segregating jockeys into designated areas based on where they last rode. Indiana Grand raced with limited fans and optional masks for riders, but allowed winner’s circle photos taken without proper social distancing. Masks were optional among horsemen and owners.

That consistency gap provoked Prat’s agent, Derek Lawson, to call out Los Alamitos for its lax manner handling jockey safety. He blamed the track for fomenting the virus among jockeys.

“I think we’re lacking in consistency,” Terry Meyocks, the president and CEO of the Jockey’s Guild, told Bloodhorse.

Three State Associations Quarantine Their Jockeys

Toward that end, three racing associations, the New York Racing Association (NYRA), the Maryland Jockey Club, and the Ohio State Racing Commission barred out-of-state jockeys from riding their meets. Prominent here was NYRA’s Tuesday decision closing the doors to Saratoga’s prestigious meet for any jockey leaving New York to ride at another track.

Geroux, meanwhile, is one of the Midwest’s A-list jockeys, although he’s traveled the country this year. The winner of five Breeders’ Cup races, including the 2017 Classic aboard Gun Runner, Geroux captured 1,598 wins out of 9,693 starts (16% win rate). His mounts earned nearly $99 million, with his best year coming in 2018. That season, Geroux ranked fifth among North American jockeys in earnings with $21.47 million.

This year, his horses are winning at an 18% clip (75 for 412) and hitting the board 44% of the time (181 for 412).

“I’m currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining the racetrack when I’m cleared,” Geroux tweeted. “Thank you everyone for the well wishes. Stay safe!”

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