Jockey Gerard Melancon wins 5,000th career race

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Veteran Thoroughbred jockey Gerard Melancon joined an exclusive group by winning the 5,000th race of his career aboard Reposato in Thursday night’s eighth race at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas.

“I have to thank my wife, Annette, for all of her support through the years. Manuel Robin was integral in giving me a chance to get started, and my agent Louis Coco has been a great partner for the past 25 years,” said Melancon.

Melancon, a native of Rayne who turned 54 last month, is the 37th jockey in U.S. history to reach 5,000 wins. His wins have come from 31,905 career mounts, which have earned $87.9 million.

Of the select group of jockeys with 5,000 wins, seven were born in Louisiana – and all of them are from the Acadiana region.

Melancon joins Eddie Delahoussaye (6,384), Kent Desormeaux (6,076), Calvin Borel (5,263), Ronald Ardoin (5,226), Robby Albarado (5,222) and Mark Guidry (5,222) in the group of Louisiana-born jockeys with 5,000 wins. Desormeaux, Borel and Albarado all remain active. Corey Lanerie, with 4,819 wins, is eighth on the Louisiana list and could be the next state-born jockey to join the club.

Melancon has ridden multiple graded stakes winners in his career, most notably Bonapaw, the talented sprinter who won the Grade I Vosburgh at Belmont Park in September 2002 for New Orleans-based owners James and Dennis Richard. Bonapaw won more than $1.1 million in his career.

In 2004, Melancon earned his biggest win in his home state in 2004 by booting home Fantasticat in the Grade II Super Derby.

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Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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