Jockey Geovanni Franco To Return To Oaklawn For 2022

Southern California-based jockey Geovanni Franco announced on Twitter Saturday that he is returning to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., for the 2021-2022 meeting that starts Dec. 3. Franco will be represented by retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.

Franco rode regularly in 2016 and 2017 at Oaklawn, amassing 61 victories, including four stakes, and $2,573,621 in purse earnings. He rode 16 winners in his 2016 debut and 45 in 2017 to tie for third in the standings.

Franco capped his 2017 meeting with a closing-day double, guiding Inside Straight ($41.40) to an upset in the $750,000 Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap for older horses for trainer Robertino Diodoro and won the following race, a starter-allowance sprint for older horses, aboard Long Station for trainer Paul Holthus of Hot Springs.

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Franco acquired three other stakes races in 2017 at Oaklawn – $125,000 King Cotton for older sprinters aboard Storm Advisory for Diodoro, $125,000 Gazebo aboard for 3-year-old sprinters aboard Rockshaw for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, and the $150,000 Purple Martin for 3-year-old female sprinters aboard Golden Mischief for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

Golden Mischief, the original runner-up, was placed first because of backstretch interference.

Franco relocated to Southern California shortly after the 2017 Oaklawn meeting ended.

He won the $400,000 G1 Beholder Mile Stakes for fillies and mares aboard Secret Spice for trainer Richard Baltas in 2019 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Franco concluded second aboard Lieutenant Dan for trainer Steve Miyadi in the $1 million G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Nov. 6 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif.

A native of Mexico, Franco rode his first winner in 2009 and entered Sunday with 903 victories overall and $24,022,154 in career purse earnings, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

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