Mike Smith gave Ocho Ocho Ocho a masterful, ground-saving trip in the Grade III Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes to be named the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week. The title goes to the week’s outstanding jockey in the opinion of a panel of industry experts. They looked at races run from November 17-23.
Smith also won Delta’s Treasure Chest Stakes in a week that saw him rake in $758,668 with three wins and two thirds from six starts. The average price on his three winning mutuel tickets was $7.93.
In the Delta Downs Jackpot on Saturday, Smith took Ocho Ocho Ocho to the rail while Conquest Tsunami and Prime Engine set a blistering pace. When Smith moved clear of the early leaders, he had to fight off a determined challenge by Paco Lopez on Mr. Z. The photo went to Ocho Ocho Ocho.
Smith began riding races in New Mexico at age 11 and got his jockey’s license at 16 in 1982. He earned his apprenticeship at Canterbury Downs before moving to New York in 1989. Two years later, he became one of the few Americans to win a European classic when he won the Irish 2,000 Guineas on Fourstars Allstar.
He followed that with three straight leading jockey titles in New York.
In 1993, he set a North American record for stakes wins in a year with 62. That helped win him his first Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey. In 1994, he broke his stakes-winning record with 68, including 20 Grade I races. He rode Horse of the Year Holy Bull that season and also won two Breeders’ Cup races to pick up another Eclipse Award.
Smith moved to Southern California in 2000, and in 2002 teamed up with his second Horse of the Year, Azeri.
Other career highlights have included winning the Kentucky Derby on 50-1 longshot Giacomo, riding Zenyatta, the only horse to win two different Breeders’ Cup races, and winning 17 Breeders’ Cup races.
JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, the Jockeys’ Guild, the Paulick Report, the Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.