2013 Preakness Stakes Jockeys
by Trevor Whenham - 5/14/2013
Jockeys may be small, but they are almost impossibly tough. They are also very interesting. For bettors they are important, too. A good ride can turn a decent horse into a champion, and a bad ride can make a bum out of a superstar. As you get ready to handicap the little guys (and gal) in the 2013 Preakness Stakes, here’s a look at some of what each of them bring to the table:
Joel Rosario, Orb
There is no rider on the planet hotter than Rosario right now. At the end of March he won the Dubai World Cup, the richest race in the world. Then he dominated the month-long meet at Keeneland — he had more than twice as many wins as the second-place rider and set a meet record. Then he won five races on the opening card at Churchill Downs a few days before winning the Derby. He fits Orb well, and he’s certainly not lacking confidence. He’s a big asset for the heavy favorite here.
Kevin Krigger, Goldencents
Krigger got a lot of press leading into the Derby because he was only the second African-American jockey in the race in the modern era. The horse had a horrifically bad day, so history was set aside. Now Krigger is here trying to make some Preakness history. He’s not an elite-level jockey, but he has some talent, and his win on this horse in the Santa Anita Derby was very impressive.
Brian Hernandez, Jr., Departing
Hernandez has mostly been outside of the brightest spotlights in the sport, but he has had his moments. In 2004 he won the Eclipse Award as the top apprentice jockey in the country. Last year he rode Fort Larned to an upset win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Now he’s on a buzz horse that could be the second choice in this race as he tries to secure his first Triple Crown win. Perhaps that coupled with the Classic win last year would start to get him mentioned alongside bigger names.
Rosie Napravnik, Mylute
Napravnik is a woman jockey, but she doesn’t need that gender distinction — she can keep up with the best of the boys. She sits near the top of the jockey standings this year. Last year she became the first woman to win the Kentucky Oaks, and she won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as well. Only one woman has ever won a Triple Crown race — Julie Krone. By the time she is done, the talented and wildly-popular Napravnik will have eclipsed that total by a wide margin.
John Velazquez, Itsmyluckyday
Velazquez is on a solid horse, but he has to be cursing his luck right now. He was the rider of Orb in his wins in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby. He was also the rider for the undefeated Verrazano, though, and he chose to stick with that mount. Verrazano bombed on Derby day, and Orb obviously won, and now Velazquez is on the outside looking in. He landed in this saddle because Elvis Trujillo had a terrible ride in the Derby. He’s just happy to be here at all, though. A bad wreck at Aqueduct in early April kept him out of action for a month, and he returned to riding just days before the Derby. Velazquez would love to complete his career Triple Crown with a win here.
Mike Smith, Will Take Charge
Smith took over this mount from Jon Court after the Derby — a big upgrade in riders for the live longshot. Smith, who has won each Triple Crown race once, will be hoping for a much better experience here than he had in the Derby. His mount, Palace Malice, ran away on him early and set absolutely suicidal early fractions. Smith couldn’t really control him. All he could do is sit back and wait to hit the wall, which he did emphatically.
Martin Garcia, Govenor Charlie
Garcia has some experience winning this race. He won it in 2010 aboard Lookin at Lucky — also for trainer Bob Baffert. In fact, Garcia has done most of his top-level riding for Baffert. They had a rough patch last year and briefly severed their relationship, but fate wouldn’t let them be apart. He hasn’t been riding up to his usual standard so far this year, so he could really use a big showing here to kickstart the season.
Gary Stevens, Oxbow
I can’t be even remotely objective about Stevens. He is my favorite jockey, and it’s not even close for second. When he retired in 2005 with bad knees, I was crushed. His return to action this year at age 50 has been thrilling and inspiring. He’s had some solid success, including some stakes wins, but he has yet to have a signature win. This would certainly count. He’s no stranger to success in Triple Crown races — he has won the Derby and Belmont three times each and the Preakness twice.
Julien Leparoux, Titletown Five
Leparoux was the 2009 Eclipse winner for top jockey and is regularly in the Top 10 nationally for earnings at year’s end. With Rosario winning the Derby, Leparoux is at the forefront of the discussion of best jockeys never to win a Triple Crown race. That’s hardly a group you want to be included in. It’s hard to imagine him winning one here on this longshot, either.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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