A native of the Acadiana area, who went on to become one of the winningest jockeys at one of the most legendary racetracks in the country died earlier this week.

Larry Melancon, a native of Breaux Bridge, who ranks in the top ten in career wins at Churchill Downs, located in Louisville, Kentucky, died on Thursday morning.

Melancon, who was 65-years old, died from complications from a stroke that he suffered four years ago.

Melancon, who was nine-years-old and weighed 45 pounds when he began riding horses in unsanctioned racing competitions in various locations, including Lafayette, Church Point, Villa Platte, and Breaux Bridge, started riding unofficially back in 1964.

As soon as he turned 16, Melancon got his rider's license and began riding at recognized tracks, including Evangeline Downs, securing his first documented winner on a horse named Norman Bodet Sir on September 28, 1971, at Jefferson Downs in Metairie.

Melancon began riding at Churchill Downs in 1974, before retiring in 2010, accumulating 914 career wins at the track, which ranked third all-time, while also earning 47 stakes victories, which ranked fourth.

Still today, Melancon's career wins and career stakes wins rank seventh in the history of the famed track.

Over his illustrious career, Melancon compiled 2,857 victories and more than $60 million in purse earnings through his 38 years riding.

One of the more well-respected jockeys of all-time, Melancon won 43 graded stakes, and rode in the Kentucky Derby four times, with his best finish being fourth above Amano in 1976.

In 1986, Melancon captured arguably the top win of his career, winning the GI Blue Grass Stakes aboard Bachelor Beau.

Melancon was preceded in death by mother Winona Champagne and father Vermillian Melancon.

In addition to his wife, Denise Hasher Melancon, who he married seven years ago, Melancon is survived by son Lance Melancon, daughter Heather Schapansky, stepson Keelan Allen, sisters Judy Theriot and Vickie Guchereau; and grandchildren Caleb and Nathan Schapansky and Lawrence Melancon.

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