Oaklawn News

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Melancon to Represent Borel at Oaklawn; Jerry Hissam Officially Retires

Jerry Hissam of Hot Springs, Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel’s agent for most of the last 24 years, said he has retired and hopes to work for Oaklawn during the 2016 live meeting that begins Jan. 15. In the meantime, retired jockey Larry Melancon, who has been Borel’s agent since this fall, will continue to book mounts for the rider.

Hissam, 71, long maintained that he would retire when Borel retired, but said those plans changed because of recent “family issues.” He didn’t travel this fall to Kentucky and is now renting “a place” on nearby Lake Hamilton after selling his Hot Springs home.

“I just thought it was time to be home after 46 years on the road,” said Hissam, a West Virginia native who has lived in Hot Springs since the mid-1970s. “It’s not that I want to quit traveling, but I want to travel with my wife.”

Hissam began representing Borel in March 1991 at Oaklawn, a collaboration highlighted by Kentucky Derby victories in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and the jockey’s induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2013. They also teamed for Oaklawn riding championships in 1995 – ending Pat Day’s record 12 consecutive titles – and in 2001.

“We tried to go out together, but there were too many health issues going on here,” Hissam said. “I love him like a son. I miss being around him. We never had two cross words in 24 years.”

“I’ll be around somewhere,” Hissam said. “I’m not leaving Hot Springs.”

Hissam also represented, among others, highly successful riders Larry Snyder, Sam Maple and David Whited during a career that spanned more than four decades.

Making Plans

Springboard Mile winner Discreetness has settled into his winter base at Oaklawn in preparation for his scheduled 3-year-old debut in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 18, trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs said.

The $250,000 Springboard Mile, run Dec. 13 at Remington Park, was the third victory in five lifetime starts for Discreetness, a son of Discreet Cat who was purchased for $105,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale Co.’s March sale of 2-year-olds in training. He was coming off a fourth-place finish in the $80,000 Street Sense Stakes Nov. 1 at Churchill Downs.

“We had confidence in him going into the Springboard,” Fires said. “When he ran the time before, he was in a jackpot all the way, just boxed in, no way to get out. We felt pretty good about him running the other day. He got shuffled back a little farther than I intended for him to. But he made it up, so that was good.”

Discreetness, who was ridden by Fires’ son-in-law, Jon Court, was making his two-turn debut in the Springboard Mile. He is owned by Fires’ largest client, Express Thoroughbreds LLC, which has 10 horses with the trainer.

Dwight Pruett of Texarkana, Ark., and Paula Barnes of Hot Springs are partners in Express.

Fires said Discreetness will have his first post-Springboard Mile work early next month.
Finish Lines

There were 938 horses on the grounds early Monday afternoon. … Brewing, pointing for the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes Jan. 30 at Oaklawn, worked a half-mile in :49.20 over a fast surface Tuesday morning for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Brewing won the $100,000 Gazebo Stakes and $100,000 Bachelor Stakes at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting. … Ivan Fallunovalot, also pointing for the King Cotton, recorded a half-mile bullet (:46) Saturday morning for trainer Tom Howard. Ivan Fallunovalot won the 2015 King Cotton.