Louisiana native Gerard Melancon became the 37th jockey in North America to reach the milestone of 5,000 wins when his mount in the eighth race at Evangeline Downs Thursday night, Reposado (Shackleford), crossed the wire in front by 5 3/4 lengths. The first time he had visited the winner's circle as a rider at Evangeline Downs was 37 years ago. Melancon's first professional ride was at Delta Downs in 1984. He has since ridden in more than 31,900 races and earned nearly $88 million in purse money. He had recently passed retired Hall of Famer Ramon Dominguez on the all-time career wins list and has just 35 victories to go to match the win mark of retired Hall of Famer Alex Solis.
“I have to thank my wife, Annette, for all of her support through the years,” said Melancon, who is 54. “Manuel Robin was integral in giving me a chance to get started, and my agent Louis Coco has been a great partner for the past 25 years.”