It was likely a difficult decision, but Flavien Prat has chosen to ride GI Arkansas Derby winner Angel of Empire (Classic Empire) over GII Louisiana Derby winner Kingsbarns (Uncle Mo) in this year’s GI Kentucky Derby.
The news was confirmed by trainer Brad Cox, who said he has received assurances from Prat and his agent Brad Pegram that the French-born riding star will be aboard Angel of Empire in the Derby.
“Yes, Prat will ride Angel of Empire in the Derby,” Cox said via text. “We’re excited that Flavien is sticking with Angel of Empire. If we can duplicate his run in the Arkansas Derby, we believe that it would be an effort that would make him very competitive in the Kentucky Derby. We’re looking forward to May 6.”
After Cox used four different jockeys in Angel of Empire’s first five races, he landed on Prat for the Apr. 1 Arkansas Derby and the result was a 4 1/4-length win. The Pennsylvania-bred could be the second choice in the Derby behind Forte (Violence).
Prat will also ride likely GI Kentucky Oaks favorite Wet Paint (Blame) for Cox.
Kingsbarns, who is trained by Todd Pletcher, is undefeated in three starts. After using Luis Saez and Antonio Gallardo, Pletcher went to Prat for the Louisiana Derby and the result was a 3 1/2-length front-running win.
Reached by text, Pletcher said he has yet to secure a rider for Kingsbarns, but several top jockeys should be available.
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