In an eight-horse Preakness field that includes legendary trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert, it’s easy for Rodolphe Brisset to get largely ignored. Still, there’s certainly a good story lurking in the shadows of the stakes barns at Pimilico Race Course this week headed into Saturday’s race.
Brisset, 34, a former jockey in his native France, will saddle his first Triple Crown entry in Quip. Brisset left his home at 14 to become a jockey, but eventually “got too heavy” and wound up being brought to Saratoga by family friend Julien Leparoux, an exercise rider who eventually also became a jockey. Brisset went to work for trainer Patrick Biancone.
Brisset eventually spent nine years working for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, whose long career was highlighted by a win in the 2010 Belmont Stakes by 12-1 long shot Drosselmeyer. Those are the same odds with which Quip will enter the starting gate Saturday.
There’s something special about the first Triple Crown entry, which Brisset hopes won’t be the last.
“That’s what we wake up every morning for,” said Brisset, who went out on his own a year ago, said during Thursday’s Alibi Breakfast. “That’s what we do every day, to find the right horse and try to get the horse to the point where you can compete in the best races. We’re very excited, very happy to be here. It’s already a great experience, and I’m sure we’re going to have a blast on Saturday.”
Brisset, who came to the United States 13 years ago, has been to Baltimore once before, with a filly that finished “back in the pack” at the Black-Eyed Susan a couple of years ago. Brisset and Quip's ownership group bypassed the Kentucky Derby and pointed their horse to the Preakness.
Based at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., Quip broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in his debut as a 2-year-old in September and followed it with another win in an allowance race at his home track in October before finishing seventh in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in November.
As a 3-year-old, Quip has won the Tampa Bay Derby as a 19-1 long shot and finished second at the Arkansas Derby.
If the surroundings this week seem new to Brisset, this will be something of a homecoming for Brisset’s wife, Brooke Baker, who grew up in Rising Sun in Cecil Country and was an excercise rider at local tracks, including at Laurel Park for the late, legendary Dickie Small.
“It’s always nice to come back here and see my family, have the blue crabs and all the good Maryland stuff,” Baker said.
Being in the winner’s circle Saturday night will be at the top of the list.