Apprentice Jockey Chance Boulanger Scores First Career Win
FLORENCE, Ky. (March 14, 2014) – Apprentice jockey Brandon Chance Boulanger, 20, scored his first career win Friday when he rocketed to the lead on Swaylon Braylon in the fourth race at Turfway Park and hit the wire nine lengths the best.
The win came with his 30th mount. He also has four seconds and three thirds.
“It feels amazing to win,” Boulanger said. “I thought I had it once before, when I got my first second. I came up on (jockey Tommy) Pompell and my horse was really gunning for me, but we got beat in a photo finish, by the hair of a nostril.”
Born in San Ramon, Calif., Boulanger is the son of jockey Gary Boulanger and former jockey Julie Griffith and the brother of former jockey Alexa Boulanger. He grew up in Florida, first in Hollywood and then, after his parents divorced, in the West Palm Beach area. He and his sister received ponies on his third Christmas and he has been on horseback ever since. His sister, two years older, also taught him early lessons about racing competition.
“My mom taught me how to ride. My sister and I used to gallop around the tomato fields. I was four years old and I had this little palomino pony. She would try to push me off of it,” Boulanger laughed.
Boulanger began riding racehorses at 18, preparing youngsters for the Ocala Breeders’ Sales at both his dad’s farm in Ocala and at the OBS facility. After the sales he worked at Keith Asmussen’s farm in Laredo, Texas, again breaking babies. He returned to Florida in the fall of last year, worked as an exercise rider at Calder, and took out his jockey’s license Nov. 11. He moved his tack to Turfway in mid-December.
“I never thought of doing anything else,” Boulanger said. “I had the size, I was a small kid. I played sports—hockey, football, a little bit of polo. I learned to have fun with horses.”
Friday’s fourth race was his first official win as a Thoroughbred jockey but it was not the first race he ever won. That came in Alpine, Texas, riding a polo pony on the farm of Al Micallef.
“I was challenging my mentor there, saying, ‘I bet my pony can beat your pony,’ and one day he took me up on it. We went about a quarter-mile on the track around the farm, and he beat me. But the next time I beat him. I won five dollars.”
Boulanger plans to leave Turfway on Tuesday for Emerald Downs in Washington state, building on relationships his dad established there in his three years as leading rider.