Jean-Luc Samyn celebrated his 55th birthday Nov. 6 by taking out his license as a jockey agent and announcing his retirement from a riding career that spanned more than 30 years on The New York Racing Association circuit.

“It is the right thing to do,” said Samyn, who will be representing Filiberto Leon in his return to riding at Aqueduct Racetrack. “I had said that if I was able to walk away (from riding) when I was 55, that was the time to do it.”

Samyn, who began riding in New York in 1976, won his first stakes race in 1978 aboard Jaipur’s Gem in the Carter Handicap and in the ensuing years won dozens of stakes at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. Samyn said he considers the highlight of his riding career to have come on a single weekend in October 2000, when he won the Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational aboard John’s Call, the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational with Colstar, and the Grade 2 Kelso with Forbidden Apple.

“That was better than fabulous,” said Samyn. “To win two grade I races on one day, and then to come back the next day and win the ‘little’ $250,000 race was icing on the cake.”

Known for his prowess aboard turf horses, he retired with 2,613 winners and total earnings of $94,135,156. After suffering the loss of two fingers on his right hand in a snowblower accident earlier this year, Samyn curtailed his riding considerably and compiled a mark of 4-5-6 from 81 starters in 2011.

“It’s very exciting to move on,” he said. “Filiberto and I have been making the rounds and have gotten good feedback. He’s looking to work hard, and so am I.”

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