Axelle Angeliaume brought a unique skillset and experience portfolio when she came to the United States to work in racing after starting her career in her native France.
"My dad is a trainer of Standardbreds; all my family is involved with Standardbreds," Angeliaume, an assistant to Jeremiah Englehart, said this summer in Saratoga. "And in France we ride Standardbreds just as we drive them. I started to be a jockey, won a lot of races and then I got sick and I had to stop riding. Eventually I felt better but when I came back I decided it was time to do something else."
Something else led her into Thoroughbred racing and a job working in the yard of legendary French trainer Andre Fabre. After about a year working for Fabre, a seven-time winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and trainer of major stakes winners around the globe including in the U.S., Angeliaume went to the U.S.
A job with trainer Christophe Clement at Belmont Park is where Angeliaume started her American stay and it's also where she met the Horse Who Changed Everything, at least on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
"I had a horse I won six races in a row with, a Standardbred back in France," Angeliaume said. "She won my first big race, then five more in a row. She was really a nice mare.
"But here in the United States I'd have to say Aigue Marine. She was tough, a French filly. Strong. Really difficult."
Aigue Marine was also blessed with plenty of talent and stamina, enough to win two graded stakes and place in three others for Clement and owners Haras du Mezeray and Skymarc Farm Inc. over three seasons in the U.S.
Seventh in the Montjeu Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary at Longchamp during the spring of her 3-year-old season, Aigue Marine won a small stakes later that summer at Clairefontaine-deauville before coming to the U.S. in the fall of 2012. The daughter of Galileo made an immediate impression, finishing third behind older foes Starformer and Mystical Star in the Grade 3 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct.
Aigue Marine raced only three times as a 4-year-old, a victory in a Gulfstream Park allowance the only on-the-board effort, but enjoyed a strong 5-year-old campaign. After placing in two of her first three starts - both graded stakes - Aigue Marine won the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park in early July 2014. She finished fifth in the Grade 3 Glens Falls at Saratoga before a career-ending victory in the Long Island, which was run this year for the 61st time on Nov. 6.
"She was excited and strong, and my first good horse I rode for Christophe," Angeliaume said. "I got along good with her. Sometimes riders like horses that aren't very good but you just get along with them. With her we got along and she was a very good horse. With her it just worked, everything worked."
A native of Laval, France, Angeliaume eventually left Clement's barn and worked as an assistant to Jena Antonucci. She started with Englehart last November, learned the claiming game and eventually hopes to train on her own
"I never raced Thoroughbreds in France; it's a different kind of training, a lot of straight, not around the ring, and training in the woods," she said. "The system is different; the training is different. I think I'm more comfortable here than in France.
"Training Thoroughbreds here is more similar to Standardbred training in France. Training on a ring, it's probably helped me a lot, especially with tough horses because Standardbreds are really strong."