After winning the Florida Derby on Materiality, John Velazquez holds a pair of aces as he moves closer to the most famous of races, the Kentucky Derby. He’s the regular rider for two of the top five horses on the road to Kentucky, as well as Madefromlucky, who’s to make his next start April 11 in the Arkansas Derby.

Florent Geroux, a native of Argentan, France, may have his first Derby mount after riding Stanford to a runner-up finish at Fair Grounds in the Louisiana Derby. And Santiago Gonzalez joins the jockeys hoping to converge on Churchill Downs in a month; he’ll ride Ocho Ocho Ocho in the Blue Grass, replacing Mike Smith, who’ll remain in California to ride Bolo in the Santa Anita Derby.

Christophe Soumillon, a native of Schaerbeek, Belgium, and the Irish-bred Mubtaahij could add some foreign flair to the Derby and perhaps some style to the festivities surrounding the event. Soumillon and Mubtaahij convincingly won the UAE Derby. By the way, Sophie Soumillon, the jockey’s wife, is a model, author and television hostess. And she was Miss France of 1998.

The jockeys’ points are based on the horses’ rankings, with the rider of the No. 1 horse getting 25 points, followed by No. 2 at 24 points, No. 3 at 23 points, etc. Velazquez, for example, has 46 points, the total from his three possible mounts: 23 + 21 + 2.

Jockeys (total points) leading the way on the road to the Kentucky Derby

  1. John Velazquez (23 + 21 + 2 = 48)
  2. Martin Garcia (25)
  3. Victor Espinoza (24)
  4. Mike Smith (14 + 8 = 22)
  5. Gary Stevens (22)
  6. Manuel Franco (20)
  7. J. L. Ortiz (19)
  8. Kent Desormeaux (18)
  9. Miguel Mena (17)
  10. Christophe Soumillon (16)
  11. Irad Ortiz Jr (15)
  12. Javier Castellano (13 + 1 = 14)
  13. Florent Geroux (12)
  14. C. C. Lopez (11)
  15. Rafael Bejarano (10)
  16. Jose Lezcano (9)
  17. Luis Saez (7)
  18. Julien Leparoux (6)
  19. Santiago Gonzalez (5)
  20. Joe Talamo (4)
  21. James Graham (3)

Horses leading the way on the road to the Kentucky Derby

  1. Dortmund
  2. American Pharoah
  3. Carpe Diem
  4. Firing Line
  5. Materiality
  6. Far From Over
  7. Upstart
  8. Propsect Park
  9. International Star
  10. Mubtaahij
  11. Frosted
  12. Bolo
  13. Daredevil
  14. Stanford
  15. El Kabeir
  16. One Lucky Dane
  17. Dubai Sky
  18. Far Right
  19. Itsaknockout
  20. Danzig Moon
  21. Ocho Ocho Ocho
  22. War Story
  23. Keen Ice
  24. Madefromlucky
  25. Ami’s Flatter

The 2015 Derby Poll is compiled by Gary West.

Gary WestThe son of a jockey who then became a trainer, Gary West grew up around racing and horses, and his earliest jobs were all at the racetrack. While going to school, he worked as a hot walker, groom, assistant, agent and valet, and then he set out on a very different career path. But after teaching writing and American literature at the University of Tennessee and publishing scholarly articles in such magazines as The Yeats Eliot Review and The Mark Twain Journal, he returned to the racetrack — as a turf writer. He has worked for the Dallas Times Herald, Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram; his work also has appeared in many magazines and journals. He’s the author of Razoo At the Races and has contributed to many books on racing. A former president of the National Turf Writers Association, he currently writes a regular column for