Kentucky Derby 2020 Jockeys

3 Hall of Fame Jockeys Derby-bound; Leading Riders Taking A Pass

By Richard Rosenblatt

It’s time to jockey around with some of the jockeys who are and aren’t showing up for the 2020 Kentucky Derby, set for Sept. 5 – four months later than its traditional first Saturday in May due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While three Hall of Fame riders will be in the field, five of the top eight leading money-earners will not – for reasons mostly pertaining to riding commitments at other tracks and COVID-19 safety protocols.

Honor A.P.

Mike Smith and Honor A.P. – Photo Courtesy of
©Benoit Photo

Let’s look, Hall of Famers first: Mike Smith, a two-time Derby winner, will be aboard Honor A.P., one of the top horses in the field; John Velazquez gets the call on Authentic; and Javier Castellano rides Caracaro. All three rode in the 2019 Derby.

Smith is 2-for-25, winning aboard Giacomo in 2005 and Justify in 2018. Velazquez is 2-for-21, winning aboard Animal Kingdom in 2011 and Always Dreaming in 2017. Castellano is 0-for-13, his best finish third aboard Audible in 2018.

As for the leading money earners in 2020 — No. 1 Irad Ortiz, Jr., No. 2 Joel Rosario, No. 4 Luis Saez, No. 6 Flavien Prat, and No. 8 Jose Ortiz — none will have a Derby mount.

A year ago, Saez finished first aboard Maximum Security but the horse was disqualified for interference and Country House – with Prat riding – was declared the winner, giving Prat his first Derby victory and denying Saez of his.

Neither of the Ortiz brothers has won the Derby, and Rosario picked up his Derby win in 2013 with Orb.

A look at some jockey records in play:

A win by Smith aboard Honor A.P. would make him – at 55 – the oldest jockey to win the Derby (Bill Shoemaker was 54 when he won with Ferdinand in 1986).

Smith will be riding in his 26th Derby (he’s 25-2-4-1), equaling the record held by Bill Shoemaker (26-4-3-4).

There have been numerous winning jockeys who were making their Derby debut, the most recent being Mario Gutierrez aboard I’ll Have Another in 2012. First-time Derby riders in next Saturday’s race include Samy Camacho (King Guillermo), Adam Beschizza (Enforceable) and Luca Panici (Sole Volante).

Kentucky Derby Jockeys

Jockey Derby Span Mts. 1st 2nd 3rd Kentucky Derby Wins
Eddie Arcaro 1935-1961 21 5 3 2 Lawrin (1938), Whirlaway (’41), Hoop Jr. (’45), Citation (’48) & Hill Gail (’52)
Bill Hartack 1956-1974 12 5 1 0 Iron Liege (1957), Venetian Way (’60), Decidedly (’62), Northern Dancer-CAN (’64) & Majestic Prince (’69)
Bill Shoemaker 1952-1988 26 4 3 4 Swaps (1955), Tomy Lee-GB (’59), Lucky Debonair (’65) & Ferdinand (’86)
Isaac Murphy 1877-1893 11 3 1 2 Buchanan (1884), Riley (’90) & Kingman (’91)
Earle Sande 1918-1932 8 3 2 0 Zev (1923), Flying Ebony (’25) & Gallant Fox (’30)
Angel Cordero Jr 1968-1991 17 3 1 0 Cannonade (1974), Bold Forbes (’76) & Spend a Buck (’85)
Gary Stevens 1985-2016 22 3 3 1 Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (’95) & Silver Charm (’98)
Kent Desormeaux 1988-2018 22 3 1 4 Real Quiet (1998), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) & Big Brown (’08)
Calvin Borel 1993-2014 12 3 0 1 Street Sense (2007), Mine That Bird (’09) & Super Saver (’10)
Victor Espinoza 2001-2018 10 3 0 1 War Emblem (2002), California Chrome (’14) & American Pharoah (’15)
Willie Simms 1896-1898 2 2 0 0 Ben Brush (1896) & Plaudit (’98)
Jimmy Winkfield 1900-1903 4 2 1 1 His Eminence (1901) & Alan-a-Dale (’02)
Johnny Loftus 1912-1919 6 2 0 1 George Smith (1916) & Sir Barton (’19)
Albert Johnson 1922-1928 7 2 1 0 Morvich (1922) & Bubbling Over (’26)
Linus “Pony” McAtee 1920-1929 7 2 0 0 Whiskery (1927) & Clyde Van Dusen (’29)
Charlie Kurtsinger 1931-1937 4 2 0 1 Twenty Grand (1931) & War Admiral (’37)
Conn McCreary 1941-1958 10 2 0 2 Our Boots (1941) & Count Turf (’51)
Ismael “Milo” Valenzuela 1958-1974 8 2 1 0 Tim Tam (1958) & Forward Pass (’68)
Ron Turcotte 1965-1977 5 2 0 1 Riva Ridge (1972) & Secretariat (’73)
Jacinto Vasquez 1964-1993 9 2 0 0 Foolish Pleasure (1975) & Genuine Risk (’80)
Eddie Delahoussaye 1975-2002 13 2 2 2 Gato Del Sol (1982) & Sunny’s Halo-CAN (’83)
Chris McCarron 1976-2002 18 2 3 0 Alysheba (1987) & Go for Gin (’94)
Jerry Bailey 1982-2005 17 2 2 1 Sea Hero (1993) & Grindstone (’96)
Chris Antley 1988-1999 8 2 0 1 Strike the Gold (1991) & Charismatic (’99)
Mario Gutierrez 2012-2017 3 2 0 0 I’ll Have Another (2012) & Nyquist (’16)
John Velazquez 1996-2019 21 2 2 0 Animal Kingdom (2011) & Always Dreaming (’17)
Mike Smith 1984-2019 25 2 4 1 Giacomo (2005), Justify (2018)

Source: Kentucky Derby Media Guide

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