2-17-2018 Bravazo, with Miguel Mena aboard, pushes to the lead to beat Snapper Sinclair in a close finish in the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir

At one time during this endurance meet at the Fair Grounds, which started way back on Nov. 18 of last year, Miguel Mena was locked in a duel with several other jockeys for the role as leading rider.

First, there was Colby Hernandez — the brother of Brian Joseph Hernandez — and newcomer Adam Beschizza.

Colby — riding regularly for some of Louisiana’s top trainers and New Orleans’ regulars — grabbed the early lead until an injury sidelined him for awhile and cost him mounts and momentum.

Beschizza, hanging his tack in America racing regularly for the first time, got the benefit of being the first call rider for trainer Joe Sharp. And, the two of them have combined for a red-hot meet, and that vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard.

Then, there was Shaun Bridgmohan, who spurted to the lead with a furious volley of winning mounts. But commitments and other engagements took him out of town for a few days, and that slowed his rally.

Finally, there was the push of polished veterans Corey Lanerie, riding in New Orleans for the first time in years; Joe Bravo, who moved his wares to the Big Easy for the first time ever; and Florent Geroux, the hand man behind the great Gun Runner and many others from the barn of Steve Asmussen.

Still, through all the challenges, the guy that has stood the tallest in the saddle for the longest of the meet — and atop of the leaderboard — is Mena. And now, going into the stretch run of the meet, Mena is poised to capture the riding title over a group that includes some of the best riders in all of North America.

After Sunday’s racing was concluded, Mena has tallied 54 wins, and totaled over $1.592 million in purses earned. And, he has clearly pulled away as the leading rider at this year’s meet. While Lanerie and Geroux are close enough in terms of purses won (Lanerie has amassed $1.548 million and Geroux has $1.477 million), the second leading rider in terms of wins is Bridgmohan, who is well back with 47 trips to the winner’s circle.

A quartet of riders — Geroux, Beschizza, Lanerie and Mitchell Murrill — are all well back at either 41 wins or 40.

After one impressive winning ride over the weekend, The Pressbox tweeted:

“What a ride by Miguel Mena. The guy is really riding very well these days.”

Which drew a quick response from Twitter followers:

“That is the reason we have Miguel riding first call for all our horses,” wrote one Fair Grounds racing enthusiast and horse owner. “He’s talented.”

Right now, he is definitely showing it.

Here is a closer look at the Top 25 riders this meet:

1 Miguel Mena 310 54 38 37 $1,592,368 17% 129 42%
2 Corey J. Lanerie 282 40 56 53 $1,548,010 14% 149 53%
3 Florent Geroux 225 41 37 30 $1,477,400 18% 108 48%
4 Shaun Bridgmohan 202 47 29 24 $1,387,417 23% 100 50%
5 Adam Beschizza 234 41 35 32 $1,131,050 18% 108 46%
6 Mitchell Murrill 334 40 36 54 $1,095,030 12% 130 39%
7 Joe Bravo 127 36 13 21 $1,081,495 28% 70 55%
8 Colby J. Hernandez 209 30 27 25 $855,030 14% 82 39%
9 James Graham 208 24 23 25 $739,111 12% 72 35%
10 Marcelino Pedroza 255 27 37 22 $737,070 11% 86 34%
11 Jose Valdivia, Jr. 190 17 25 26 $699,595 9% 68 36%
12 Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 173 19 21 20 $694,945 11% 60 35%
13 Gabriel Saez 197 24 21 28 $681,790 12% 73 37%
14 Robby Albarado 182 11 21 20 $504,170 6% 52 29%
15 Jack Gilligan 168 18 21 21 $473,170 11% 60 36%
16 Chantal Sutherland 165 15 21 18 $437,944 9% 54 33%
17 Jose Riquelme 128 11 20 9 $275,260 9% 40 31%
18 Sophie Doyle 120 10 12 11 $257,690 8% 33 28%
19 Javier Castellano 13 2 2 1 $237,800 15% 5 38%
20 Calvin H. Borel 73 5 4 10 $210,580 7% 19 26%
21 Jamie Theriot 88 7 5 11 $210,480 8% 23 26%
22 Christopher A. Emigh 97 7 12 7 $188,510 7% 26 27%
23 Diego Saenz 7 2 1 2 $187,638 29% 5 71%
24 Aubrie Green 63 7 6 10 $130,370 11% 23 37%
25 John R. Velazquez 7 1 1 2 $124,010 14% 4 57%