St. Croix Native Lebron Putting Down Roots at Gulfstream after Riding Across US

May 30, 2020

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Jockey Victor Lebron has been the definition of a journeyman jockey during his career, amassing 1,759 victories and $30.9 million in purses – won while riding at racetracks throughout the country.

The 35-year-old St. Croix native, however, decided to plant roots in South Florida 13 months ago and he has steadily established himself with the Gulfstream Park horsemen, who are not always the easiest to win over.

Lebron rode three winners on last Saturday’s program at Gulfstream Park, including both ends of the early double for trainers Kenny McPeek and Cayetano Cadahia, as well as a well-judged triumph aboard Todd Pletcher-trained Malibu Max in Race 9.

Lebron has ridden 19 winners since the April 2 start of the Spring/Summer Meet after ranking 20th with 17 wins during the 2019-2020 Championship Meet. Victor had a particularly good week. In addition to three wins on May 23 he had a win and second place on the 24th, two wins and a second on the 25th and a second and third place on the 28th.

“I’ve always liked Gulfstream. My business dropped a little bit when I was in Kentucky, which happens in every rider’s life,” said Lebron, who began riding in St. Croix before venturing to the U.S. in 2005. “I regained confidence in myself and bounced back and decided to come to Gulfstream, a fresh place. I figured I could do good. I had done good here once, so I decided to knock on the door and see what opened up.”

Lebron rode his 1000th career winner, Peach Bottom, at Gulfstream Park March 2, 2011 during one of his brief stints riding in South Florida.

He won aboard his very first mount upon moving his tack to Gulfstream in April 2019 and has remained determined to find a place in a highly competitive jockey’s room, especially during the winter months.

“When I put my plan into action, I said, ‘No matter what happens, I’m going to stick to it. Whether it goes good or it goes bad, I’m going to stick to my plan and see what the future has for me,” Lebron said. “My business has been picking up really good. I’m happy here.”

The tenacious jockey has also racked up four graded stakes wins. In 2008 he won the Gardenia Handicap (Gr. 3) (later raised to a stakes and then renamed the Groupie Doll after the 2011 winner) on Dale Romans-trained Swift Temper at Ellis Park in Kentucky. In 2012 aboard Kenny McPeek’s 2-year-old filly Salty Strike he again won the one-mile dirt race by 1 1/4 lengths over Joyful Victory

Lebron piloted 3-year-old Ghostzapper colt Matthewsburg trained by Mike Maker to an upset victory over a field of 11 at Turfway in the 2011 Speightstown Kentucky Cup Sprint Stakes (Gr. 3). And in 2013 at Indiana Grand he won the Indiana Oaks (Gr. 2) on the McPeek-trained Pure Fun over Oscar Party and Bob Baffert‘s Fiftyshadesofhay. The then 3-year-old filly Pure Fun was campaigned by Magdalena Racing owned by Susan McPeek. 

Victor Lebron rode Frac Daddy for McPeek to a second place in the 2013 Arkansas Derby (Gr. 1) at Oaklawn Park. That earned Lebron the mount in one of the most competitive Kentucky Derbys – especially for future sires. 

The 2013 edition won by Orb with Joel Rosario up included Mylute with Rosie Napravnik aboard, Palace Malice with Mike Smith, Revolutionary with Calvin Borel, future Preakness winner Oxbow with Gary Stevens, Charming Kitten with Edgar Prado, Verrazano with John Velazquez, to name a few. Frac Daddy would finish 16th behind Verrazano and Itsmyluckyday and one ahead of Spendthrift’s upcoming sire Goldencents

2013 Kentucky Derby replay 

Fun Frac Daddy Facts: The son of Scat Daddy out of Skip Away mare Skipper’s Mate had a record of 20 starts with five firsts and seven second place finishes. For his 20 starts the gray colt had one trainer–McPeek and seven, yes, count ’em, seven different jockeys over his three-year career. 

Alan Garcia rode Frac Daddy to a second place in his debut in October 2012 at Belmont Park. One month later the colt would break his maiden under David Cohen at Churchill. Three weeks later Cohen would pilot Frac Daddy to second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (Gr. 2). Cohen would remain his rider in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream but after a lackluster sixth place finish and about two months off Corey Lanarie would step into the irons. Another unproductive performance and layoff would put Lebron up in the Arkansas Derby. 

All told Garcia and Cohen would get the mount on Frac Daddy five times each followed by Lanarie at four times, Luis Contraras and Lebron at two each, and Joe Talamo and Shane Lavoilette each getting one ride. 

Frac Daddy would earn $701,236 and retire to stud in 2016. He stands for CA$5,000 at Park Stud, Mono, ON, Canada. His 2017 first crop includes: Owlette (CAN), 5-3-2-0, $174,157; November Fog (CAN), 6-1-1-3, $52,921; and, Frac Attack (CAN), 7-1-2-1, $40,666.

Lebron has mounts at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, May 30 in: 

Race 1 Maiden Claiming $35,000 on Turf, Time for Trouble for Todd Pletcher 

Race 3 Claiming $18,000 on Dirt, Grace’s Drama for Don Swick 

Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $45,000 on Turf, Starship Mallomar for Steven Dwoskin

Race 9 Claiming $30,000 on Dirt, Yodel E. A. Who for Saffie Joseph, Jr.

Sunday, May 31

Race 4 Maiden Claiming $19,000 on Dirt, Miss Cheeny for Richard Ralph 

Race 5 Maiden Claiming $17,000 on Turf, Swingin On a Star for Tamara Levy 

Race 7 Claiming $23,000 on Turf, Goneasagirlcanget for Scott Acker 

Race 8 Allowance Optional Claiming $44,000 on Dirt, Royal Squeeze for Elizabeth Dobles 

Race 11 Claiming $25,000 on Turf, Customerexperience for Saffie Joseph, Jr.

Past The Wire Staff 

Photo: Archidust wins the 2019 OBS Sprint Stakes with Victor Lebron up in November in Ocala. Credit: Joe DiOrio

Matthewsburg with Victor Lebron up overtook the leaders at the top of the stretch and drew clear for a 2 ¼ lengths upset in the 2011 Speightstown Kentucky Cup Sprint Stakes (Gr. 3) at Turfway Park. Credit: Anne M. Eberhardt 

Jockey Victor Lebron rides Kentucky Derby hopeful Frac Daddy for a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Credit: Charlie Riedel/AP

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