Blanc, who rides as a journeyman for the first time Wednesday, is quietly confident the loss of the five-pound apprentice weight allowance won't be the beginning of the end.
"This is just the start for me, not the end," said Blanc, who began Sunday atop the jockeys standings with 21 wins.
Brice Blanc does all of the right things: he works hard, he learns from his mistakes, he treats people with respect and, despite all of his success and all of the money he has made, he remains humble to the core. He still drives a Volkswagen, still shares an apartment with a friend and remains one of the most soft-spoken riders in the room.Blanc, however, has made it clear that his calm demeanor should not be mistaken for weakness. As he has gained experience, he has had to learn to handle himself on and off the racetrack with his peers. While it's virtually impossible to find anyone with a bad word to say about Blanc, jockeys never take kindly to the new kid on the block. And if given the chance, they might put Blanc in a tough position on the track.
"They like to test you," Blanc said. "You can't let it bother you, though, or you won't make it. When I make a mistake and get in a tough spot, they do me no favors. That's fine. So I've learned to do them no favors."
Is Blanc confident he can survive without the bug on perhaps the world's toughest circuit?
"Everyone says I'll get the chance," said Blanc, who tacks 110 pounds. "That's all I can ask. Then it's up to me to win the races.
"A year ago I wouldn't have believed I'd be the leading rider," Blanc added. "But it didn't just happen. I've worked hard, I've gotten stronger and I've gotten better horses to ride. I've never taken (success) for granted. I've had to work from the bottom up, hot-walking, exercising horses and getting small paychecks. You never forget that."
What they're saying about Brice Blanc . . . Richard Mandella, trainer: "He's turned into a real pro. He's a true gentleman and a fine person. And even though he's winning races, he isn't getting carried away with himself. He knows it's the horse, not him."
Corey Black, jockey: "He's a nice addition to our jockey colony. At some of the other tracks, there isn't the camaraderie that we enjoy in Southern California. It all traces back to Shoe (Bill Shoemaker). He set the tone for the room out here. We try as hard as we can to beat each other, but we're not at each other's throats every minute. It's a style that Pincay, Delahoussaye and all of the other guys pick up out here.
"Brice is very smart, very likable, works hard and he listens. I think when he loses the bug, the "live" horse supply will go down to some extent. But I think he'll do well enough to continue riding here."
Vic Lipton, jockeys agent for Blanc: "I've got a full book Wednesday and to my knowledge I haven't lost one call because of it (the loss of the weight allowance).
" We're three ahead of (Eddie) Delahoussaye in the standings, and I'm not going to say Brice will win the title. But he's got a chance to be right there."
Here are the early probables for the 28th running of the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Handicap: Awad, Pat Day; Dernier Empereur, no rider; Earl Of Barking, no rider; Labeeb, Eddie Delahoussaye; Northern Spur, Chris McCarron; Sandpit, Corey Nakatani; The Key Rainbow, Alex Solis, and Wavy Run, no rider.
Instead, the Alysheba colt will remain at Hollywood Park and make his next start in either the $125,000-added Cinema Handicap (Gr. III) on Saturday, June 8, or the $125,000-added Affirmed Handicap (Gr. III) on Sunday, June 30. Those races would be used as a prep for the $500,000 Swaps Stakes (Gr. II) on Sunday, July 21.
"I can run for $625,000 here," Dollase said. "I think it's the best thing to do."
Sleep Easy, a homebred daughter of Seattle Slew, has run several of her best races at Hollywood Park, topped by a triumph in last year's Grade I Hollywood Oaks. She also was beaten just a neck while finishing second in the Grade I Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita on March 10. Overall, the Bobby Frankel-trained filly has won four of 13 starts and $436,850.
Early probables for the $100,000 Hawthorne Handicap, to be run Saturday at1 1/16 miles on the main track: Above The Table, Brice Blanc; Borodislew, Gary Stevens; Cat's Cradle, Chris Antley; Jewel Princess, Chris McCarron; Sleep Easy, Eddie Delahoussaye, and Urbane, no rider.
Antespend has dropped two straight decisions for the first time in her career -- finishing second in the Grade II Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park and fourth in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs -- but she's still seven of 10 lifetime and has earned $553,889. And she's double-tough on turf, winning four of five starts including the Grade III Miesque at Hollywood last November.
Jeffrey S. Sullivan's Clamorosa, fresh from a record-setting performance at Keeneland, will head Antespend's competition. Clamarosa, claimed for a modest $25,000 at Gulfstream Park in February, has won two of three starts for her new connections including triumphs in the $108,000 Bourbonette at Turfway Park and the $73,000 Palisades at Keeneland. Clamorosa set a Keeneland record of 1:46 4/5 for1 1/8 miles on the turf in the latter race.
Clamorosa is due in Tuesday. The Elliott Walden-trained filly will stay in Ian Jory's barn at Hollywood Park.
Early probables for the 45th running of the Honeymoon Handicap, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the turf course: Antespend, Chris Antley; Clamorosa, Chris McCarron; Gastronomical, Kent Desormeaux; Ribot's Secret, Eddie Delahoussaye; Hear The Music, Brice Blanc; Taxable Deduction, no rider, and Staffin, Gary Stevens.
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