In a stance that may well have more than a ripple effect among other jockeys still riding throughout the world, America’s golden-boy apprentice, Manny Franco, has decided not to ride while the pandemic is on.
You may recall Franco was the young man who guided US 3YO sensation TIZ THE LAW (Constitution-Tizfiz) to a sublime, effortless victory in last week’s Gr 1 Florida Derby.
He is also Aqueduct’s leading rider.
But he said he in good conscience just couldn’t let his girlfriend and 2YO child worry about him during these troubled times. So he is hanging up his jodhpurs until the all clear is given to the world.
In a candid interview with The Bloodhorse publication in the US, Franco explained, “I spoke to my agent (Angel Cordero Jr.) and said that after the Florida Derby, I will stay home with my girlfriend and (2-year-old) daughter until New York opens again for racing. I don’t want to put pressure on them by being away,” Franco said.
New York is the epicentre of the rampaging virus in America and Aqueduct closed down last week so the city could use it as a makeshift hospital as the beds and bodies pile up in need of help.
Belmont is scheduled to start in late April but that is looking forlorn now too.
Tiz The Law is the nominal favourite and leading 3YO headed towards the Gr 1 Kentucky Derby in Sept.
He has the opportunity now to run in a pair of Gr 1s prior to that date.
But Franco’s action may mirror that of many concerned riders.
Japan, Hong Kong and Australia are still racing and Sweden’s racing association today announced that it would trial racing again starting next week, but nearly all other jurisdictions around the world are closed down.
If jockeys globally start to fear for their health and stop riding, following Franco’s lead, that could prove insurmountable for the sport to continue.