Gary West’s 2015 Derby Rankings
John Velazquez must soon make a most difficult decision: Carpe Diem or Materiality. Velazquez recently won the Blue Grass Stakes on Carpe Diem, and already he had won the Florida Derby on Materiality. Aimed at the Kentucky Derby, both horses are among the leading contenders for the first event in the famed Triple Crown. So on May 2 which horse will the sport’s all-time leading jockey (in purse money won) ride? And who will ride the other?
Joel Rosario joined the leading jockeys on the way to Kentucky with his victory on Frosted in Saturday’s Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Frosted’s performance was arguably one of the best during this run-up-to-the-Derby season: He won by two lengths after running the final three-eighths of a mile in 36.50 seconds. Tencendur finished second, giving Jose Ortiz another possible Derby card. He’s also the regular rider on Upstart.
At this point, the season’s 3-year-olds appear to be particularly strong. Dortmund, unbeaten in six races, remains the leader. He and Martin Garcia have become a formidable team. But several are very close to Dortmund in terms of their level of performance. This could be a contentious and special Derby. And it could be historic as well. It’s possible that this will be the first Kentucky Derby with three jockeys participating that already have won three Derbies. Those three jockeys, of course, are Gary Stevens, Kent Desormeaux and Calvin Borel.
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 48 points, the total from his three possible mounts, including Madefromlucky: 22 + 21 + 5.
Jockeys (total points) leading the way on the road to the Kentucky Derby
1. John Velazquez (22 + 21 + 5 = 48)
2. J. L. Ortiz (19 + 8 = 27)
3. Mike Smith (13 + 12 = 25)
4. Martin Garcia (25)
5. Victor Espinoza (24)
6. Gary Stevens (20 + 4 = 24)
7. Joel Rosario (23)
8. Miguel Mena (18)
9. Julien Leparoux (17)
10. Rafael Bejarano (16)
11. Christophe Soumillon (15)
12. Florent Geroux (14)
13. Kent Desormeaux (11 + 1 = 12)
14. Luis Saez (10)
15. C. C. Lopez (9)
16. Santiago Gonzalez (7)
17. Joe Talamo (6)
18. Ricardo Santana (3)
19. Calvin Borel (2)
Deshawn Parker has been on fire throughout the year and especially after moving his tack back to Mountaineer. The veteran rider scored eight wins, one second, and four thirds in 15 mounts. Better than 53% winners and over 86% in the money is an impressive feat. Parker is in top form, having captured the riding title at the recently concluded Sam Houston Race Park meeting with 55 wins. As always, the all-time leading rider at Mountaineer Park cannot be ignored at the West Virginia track.
Agustin Bracho (Mahoning Valley/Mountaineer) also had a great week with seven wins in 15 mounts for a 47% win rate. Roimes Chirinos (Pimlico) finished the week by winning 44% of his mounts and Azael De Leon (Fairmount) won 43% of his mounts.
See the week’s top jockeys by winning percentage here.
Veteran journeyman TD Houghton (Mountaineer/Mahoning Valley) led all North American jockeys in wins last week with 11. Ricardo Santana Jr. (Oaklawn) and Jose Montano (Charles Town) tied for second with nine wins each. Deshawn Parker & Edgar Paucar (Mahoning Valley/Mountaineer) both finished the week third in wins with eight.
See the week’s top jockeys by wins here.
It was an incredibly tight race for the earnings leader last week. Martin Garcia came out on top with $898,010 due in part to his romp in the Santa Anita Derby aboard Dortmund. Joel Rosario finished the week second in earnings after his Gazelle Stakes win aboard Condo Commando and his Wood Memorial victory on Frosted. Rosario finished the week with two wins, five seconds, and one third totaling $896,437. John Velazquez rounded out the top three in earnings with $854,700 from two wins, three seconds, and four thirds.
See the week’s top jockeys by earnings here.
Quarter Horse Standings
Raul Ramirez Jr. (Sam Houston) is leading in the win column for the year with 53 from 213 mounts. Omar Reyes (Remington Park) ranks second with 50 wins from 241 starts and David Alvarez (Sam Houston) ranks third with 48 wins from 205 mounts.
Omar Reyes has earned $684,311 from 241 starts to lead the AQHA earnings standings, while Rodrigo Vallejo is second with $681604, and Joe Badilla Jr. is third with $574,557.
Keep up with all the AQHA leaders here . . .
Jockeys On The Move
With the final Kentucky Derby prep races this weekend, jockeys are in search of the mount that could produce the next Triple Crown winner. Below you will find a list of the jockeys shipping in to Oaklawn on Saturday and their mounts:
Race 7 – The Oaklawn H. (GII) – Sammy Mandeville
Race 11 – The Arkansas Derby (GI) – Win the Space
Race 7 – The Oaklawn H. (GII) – Hard Aces
Race 10 – The Northern Spur S. – Wolf Man Rocket
Race 11 – The Arkansas Derby (GI) – American Pharoah
Race 7 – The Oaklawn H. (GII) – Golden Lad
Race 10 – The Northern Spur S. – Hillbilly Royalty
Race 11 – The Arkansas Derby (GI) – Far Right
Race 5 – Roll Tide Roll
Race 7 – The Oaklawn H. (GII) – Race Day
Race 8 – The Instant Racing S. – Harbour Island
Race 9 – West Village
Race 11 – The Arkansas Derby (GI) – Madefromlucky
Omar Reyes Voted AQHA/Jockeys’ Guild Quarter Horse Jockey of the Month
Jockey Omar Reyes, fresh from a riding title at Hialeah Park, continued his winning ways in March and was named the AQHA/Jockeys’ Guild Quarter Horse Jockey of the Month. A panel of experts selected Reyes as the inaugural recipient of the JocketTalk360.com award.
Reyes overcame a bad spill previous month to be named the inaugural winner of the new award. A native of Kansas City, Reyes was catapulted from his mount Lord of Fire at Hialeah on February 15th. The unfortunate result was a fractured collarbone and immediate surgery. Despite that setback Reyes was still able to comeback in enough time to hold off the rest of the riding colony at Hialeah’s Winter Quarter Horse meet and win the title with 46 victories.
A relative newcomer to race riding, Reyes became involved in the sport when fellow jockey and friend Raul Gutierrez talked him into galloping horses. He notched his first win aboard Anns First Lady at Lone Star Park in October 2012.
For the month of March he lead all Quarter Horse riders in wins with 48 while placing second in monthly earnings with a total of $646,836 in purse money won.
With the ending of the South Florida meeting at Hialeah, this top jockey is staying quite busy now in the Southwest. His skills are in demand by many of the top trainers throughout the region. He is listed on mounts at Sam Houston, Remington Park and Sunland Park in the next four days.
Kerwin Clark Wins The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Award
Kerwin Clark, winner of the Grade I Ashland Stakes on Saturday, has been voted as the winner of The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Award. The voting members of the weekly honor seemed to be in unison when casting ballots this week, thinking that it’s not just a numbers game. It isn’t always how many wins, but in this instance at least, how big of a win.
It couldn’t have been a bigger win for Clark, who finally scored his first Grade I victory with a win in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland Racecourse. Clark had the call for the Larry Jones trained Lovely Maria on Saturday and she delivered that elusive win in style in front of a packed house on opening weekend at the iconic Lexington venue.
Garcia, Espinoza Poised to Succeed on Baffert’s Derby Hopefuls
In a setting as American as apple pie, Twin Spires and all, a Mexican mano a mano battle looms at storied Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May between Victor Espinoza and Martin Garcia, natives of Mexico and the regular riders of the two favorites for the 141st Kentucky Derby, American Pharoah and Dortmund.
Espinoza, 42, from the metropolis of Mexico City, and Garcia, 30, from the touristy beach town of Vera Cruz, some 500 miles away, could decide not only which is the best 3-year-old trained by Bob Baffert, American Pharoah ridden by Espinoza or Dortmund ridden by Garcia, but also who wins the Run for the Roses.
Dortmund’s smashing victory in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby only added to his wow factor. Should this red Mack truck of a horse–call him The Diesel–win the Kentucky Derby, it would mark the third time in the last four years the Santa Anita Derby winner had done so, I’ll Have Another winning in 2012 and California Chrome last year.
American Pharoah, meanwhile, is poised to capture the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, which would set up a match between two stablemates that harkens back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when the entry of Citation and Coaltown from legendary Calumet Farm ran one-two at 40 cents to the dollar in the 1948 Derby.
Valets Smooth Way for Jockeys
Heads bowed. Hands clasped in prayer. Assembled in a tight semi-circle, jockeys wearing nothing but their socks and a towel sit together with their valets on any available bench or table. Twenty minutes before post time for the first race and in the cramped quarters of the jockey room at Delta Downs it’s so quiet that you can hear a pin drop. Space is at a premium. The track chaplain is reading tonight’s Bible message. Psalm 111, verses 1-10.
When the chaplain finishes, there is a moment of silence followed by an “open mike” session where anyone in the room can speak his mind. A valet named Doug Gilbert offers his own prayer for the strength and safety of everyone in the room and for the recovery of injured jockeys who are not present. After a group “Amen,” they return to their work stations. The first race is now 15 minutes away and all hell is about to break loose.
At his work table, Gilbert (a valet for seven jockeys) goes into perpetual motion, cleaning and lining up sets of plastic goggles.
“Once the races start everything comes at you all at once,” Gilbert said. “The job is non-stop and fast-paced. Everybody is trying to get to where they have to be for the next race. You can’t be half-stepping. Most important of all is to be organized. You have to stay calm and keep a cool head. Otherwise, you will stress out.”
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, Turf Publicists of America and racing fans.