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Leslie Mawing Excited to Ride in First Breeders’ Cup

October 24, 2008     E-mail this page to a friend!

Leslie Mawing graced the July
cover of The Racing Journal
After Leslie Mawing breezed Gallant Son last spring he told his wife, “I think I’ve got my Gottstein Futurity horse.”

Mawing could not have been more right on. He rode the precocious 2-year-old to three stakes wins, capped by a six-length victory in the Gottstein as Gallant Son was voted Emerald Downs’ champion 2-year-old.

What happened next not even the prophetic Mawing could envision. Saturday, the 34-year-old South African native will ride Gallant Son in the $2 million Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. Post time is 12:55 p.m., and an entire nation will look on to see which 2-year-old colt or gelding will become the early favorite for the 2009 Kentucky Derby.

Gallant Son, 15-to-1 on the morning line, is given an outside chance to win the mile and one-sixteenth event, and some experts arched their eyebrows when Lucarelli and owner Chris Randall opted to retain Mawing rather than give the mount to a more nationally prominent jockey.

“Frank and I are good friends and he was honest with me,” Mawing said. “I understand it’s a business, but I kept my fingers crossed and said my prayers every day.

“It’s a big deal for me to be riding in the Breeders’ Cup,” Mawing added. “There are lot of possibilities if he runs in the top three.”

Mawing isn’t exactly a sack of potatoes in the saddle. He finished sixth with 76 wins and tied for first with seven stakes wins at the 2008 Emerald meet. He was superb in route races winning at a 26 percent clip in two-turn events.

For his career, Mawing has 1,483 wins and earnings of almost $13 million.

In the Breeders’ Cup, Gallant Son will break form the No. 2 post in a field of 12.

“I’ve ridden for 14 years, and my job is to get in the gate and do a good job,” Mawing said. “I’ve got two million reasons to do a good job (in the Breeders’ Cup).”

The upside of letting Mawing keep the mount is his obvious connection with Gallant Son. As Randall points out, Gallant Son has natural speed, but the colt is willing to rate under Mawing.

“I love his running style,” Randall said. “It’s the best style you can have as a 2-year-old. (Gallant Son) wants to go, but he doesn’t fight with Leslie.”

Mawing said that wasn’t always the case.

“He was very aggressive early on, and I told Frank he’s tough to hold,” Mawing said. “He’s learned to relax with experience.

“This horse gives me confidence, and I don’t get nervous before I ride him. I’m very excited, but I think my family and friends are more excited than me.”

Gallant Son Completes Breeders’ Cup Preparations

Gallant Son schooled in the paddock Thursday, galloped Friday and is set for action, according to trainer Frank Lucarelli. “He’s feeling good and we’re ready to go,” said Lucarelli, who is enjoying his first Breeders’ Cup along with several friends and family members.