Hernandez Leads the Chase for Churchill Downs’ Riding Championship

(Brian Hernandez continues to lead the race for the Rider’s Title at Churchill Downs’ Spring/Summer Meet / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

With less than a month to go in this year’s electrifying Spring/Summer meeting at Churchill Downs, jockey Brian Joseph Hernandez heads into the stretch run with a nice lead in the current race for the Jockey’s Riding Title.

But as he well knows, the Churchill Downs’ stretch is quite long, daunting, and exhausting.

Not only for horses. Also for riders. And, he knows that long-time riding champ Corey Lanerie is back there and ready to make a closing move — yet again.

After Sunday’s races were concluded, Hernandez — one of the nicest humans you will ever meet — had 31 trips to the winner’s circle this meet. Lanerie, on the other hand, has made that journey 25 times. And, Florent Geroux still has an outside chance of making a closing move, as well. He has 21 victories in his pocket.

All in all, this race — just like most of them at the Downs’ this meet — is sure to come down to the wire.

To date, Hernandez has ridden 143 horses this meet. He has put up a record of 31-20-21, and his mounts have earned over $1.315 million in purses. His win percentage is a strong .22%, and his horses have finished either first, second or third on 50% of the time.

Lanerie, on the other hand, has a record of 25-37-31 in 164 rides — 21 more than this chief adversary in this contest. Lanerie’s horses have earned over $1.212 million, and while his win percentage is at .15%, his horses have hit the board on .57% of the time.

Geroux has ridden just 117 races this meet, so far, and has a record of 21-18-16. His horses, though, have put up $1.463 million in earnings. That is second only to Hall of Famer Mike Smith — who won the Kentucky Derby on Justify.

Here’s a closer look at the Top 25 riders at Churchill Downs this meet:

1Mike E. Smith6101$1,551,32517%233%
2Florent Geroux117211816$1,463,80518%5547%
3Jose L. Ortiz14441$1,358,98829%964%
4Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.143312021$1,315,53022%7250%
5Corey J. Lanerie164253731$1,212,34915%9357%
6Ricardo Santana, Jr.8616177$832,97619%4047%
7Shaun Bridgmohan5813911$612,06922%3357%
8John R. Velazquez11310$597,31527%436%
9Julien R. Leparoux661569$590,16623%3045%
10Javier Castellano17043$415,9040%741%
11Irad Ortiz, Jr.9104$385,64011%556%
12Chris Landeros52875$371,73215%2038%
13Robby Albarado736115$352,1208%2230%
14James Graham751086$339,39013%2432%
15Gabriel Saez7881011$325,41510%2937%
16Adam Beschizza796511$319,2358%2228%
17Edgar Morales77101214$271,16013%3647%
18Joel Rosario18132$242,5516%633%
19Tyler Gaffalione2100$224,33050%150%
20Flavien Prat8300$221,73038%338%
21Calvin H. Borel54567$210,1989%1833%
22Channing Hill49549$190,83410%1837%
23Joseph Rocco, Jr.45745$189,77016%1636%
24Jack Gilligan43734$170,36316%1433%
25C.J. McMahon744313$148,1045%2027%

He’s a big horse, very long stride and very good mover. I always thought the longer the better for him,” Geroux said after winning the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup for the third time. “Brad did a great job bringing him to the race today in excellent shape and in very good form…. Sometimes he’s been a bit of a disappointment because we’ve always thought he has more in him. Today he was in against some very nice horses, Grade 1-winning horses and graded-stakes horses. And he beat them fairly and squarely.”

Florent Geroux, Rider of the winner Arklow
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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