NEW FACE IN REMINGTON PARK JOCKEY COLONY, JANSEN MELANCON, HOPES TO MAKE SPLASH IN FIRST MEET HERE
Bloodlines of success run true for one of Remington Park’s new faces in the jockey colony – Jansen Melancon.
After all his dad is called “Gee Money,” a reflection Gerard Melancon is a multiple graded stakes winning jockey who has had 32,420 mounts that have won 5,075 races and earned $89,685,772, according to Equibase statistics. He had a Grade 1 winner in Bonapaw in 2002, a winner of the Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 21 that year. That bay gelding wound up in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint that year, finishing 10th at Arlington Park in Chicago.
“That was my favorite memory as a kid,” said Jansen, who was 14 years old, from Lafayette, La., and making his first trip to the nation’s second-largest city. “Me flying to Chicago and seeing a new place. We’d never seen anything like it. It was cold and windy but it was something to remember. It was so packed with people that day, we could barely get in.”
Now Jansen, 34, has moved his tack from Texas to Oklahoma and hopes his success here starts the same way it did when he first started riding the Lone Star State circuit. He won the $75,000 Jim’s Orbit Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on Feb. 19 of this year for trainer Dallas Keen. For all those Remington Park history buffs, he is not related to the late jockey Larry Melancon, who made a name for himself in 1994 in Oklahoma City by riding 22-1 longshot Smilin Singin Sam to an upset win in the Remington Park Derby over Silver Goblin.
In comparison to his dad’s stats, Jansen has had 7,659 mounts with 788 wins and $15,483,870 in earnings. His best year came in 2011 when he won 133 times with $2,639,343 in earnings. Seven times his horses’ earnings surpassed $1 million in a year.
Jansen has been a winner right out of the gate.
“I knew I wanted to do this from the first time I breezed a horse when I was 17 years old,” he said. “That was for Steve Asmussen (all-time winningest trainer in horse racing history). I don’t remember the horse’s name but I do remember the feeling of being free it gave me being on the horse’s back.”
He started out riding Quarter Horses for two years and said he won the first race he ever rode. He also won in his first thoroughbred race on a horse named Hobnail, March 20, 2008. That was in a maiden claiming race at Delta Downs in Louisiana, and he was 2-1/2 lengths in front at the wire.
As far as favorite horses he has ridden, he has a few.
“Itsy Bitsy Walk, I think I won 10 of 12 on him,” he said. “That was Delta and Louisiana Downs. My Boanerges was a horse in New Mexico and was the fastest horse I ever sat on. I won five of six on him and won a stakes at virtually every New Mexico track where he ran.”
His favorite race of all time for him was the night he rode half of an entry at Evangeline Downs and his dad rode the other half.
“Me and my dad were the 1 and 1A and I nailed him at the wire in a $100,000 race,” said Jansen. “The winner’s name was Local. She got up in the last three jumps. I was bottled up…bottled up and finally got there. That’s been about 10 years ago. After the race, my dad and I fist-bumped after we crossed the finish line.”
Now he hopes he and agent Bubba Wood can branch out from their business in Texas and continue to climb up the ladder of success.
“Everything has led to Remington Park; Bubba has been here many years,” Jansen said. “There are a lot of opportunities coming out of this place. Jockeys have moved to Oaklawn from here. They go everywhere from here. It’s not like Louisiana where I was and nobody really goes anywhere.”
Melancon will ride his first races in Oklahoma City this season when action is underway at Remington Park on August 19.
Tracked by more than 171,000 fans on Facebook and 10,600 Twitter followers, Remington Park has provided more than $298 Million to the State of Oklahoma general education fund since the opening of the casino in 2005. Located at the junction of Interstates 35 & 44, in the heart of the Oklahoma City Adventure District, Remington Park begins the 2022 Thoroughbred Season on August 19 and features simulcast horse racing daily, and the casino is always open! Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.