Jockey Factoids at Churchill Downs Meet

(Mike Smith made his one win at this Spring/Summer meet at Churchill Down count, riding Triple Crown winner Justify to victory n the KY Derby / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Some interesting factoids regarding the current list of top riders who have competed at Churchill Downs this race meeting:

#1: Mike Smith, the regular rider of the great Justify and the newest member of the jockey fraternity that have won a Triple Crown, still sits atop of the Churchill Downs’ current leaderboard in terms of purses won at this Spring/Summer meet. Amazing rider. Amazing ride.

Although he has ridden only 6 horses this meet, and has just the one victory, the Hall of Famer made it count, riding Justify to victory in the Kentucky Derby on the First Saturday in May. For his efforts, the connections of Justify earned over $1.551 million in purse money.

Not a bad day.

#2: Florent Geroux, who made a big-time name for himself just a year ago when he piloted the grand Gun Runner to victories all over the world, didn’t have the best “Public Relations” weekend, after his horse, Restored Hope, became a handful to handle going into the first turn of the Belmont Stakes.

But despite what you may read on Twitter, and hear from the camps and cramps of the owners Mike Repole and Gary West, the Frenchman — who just gained his U.S. citizenship — can ride. Ride very well, thank you. And, he, too, is having a super time of it at this Churchill Downs’ meet.

After this weekend’s racing was completed, Geroux is second only to Smith in purses earned at this Spring/Summer race meeting at Churchill “Downs. In just 120 mounts, he has totaled 22 wins, 18 seconds and 16 thirds. His percentage of horses finishing either first, second or third is a robust .47%. And, his horses have already earned over $1.487 million in earnings.

#3: Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr continues to have one of the best year’s of his riding career. After Sunday’s races were done, Hernandez stills sits tall in the saddle and atop the riding standings at this current meet at Churchill Downs.

To date, Hernandez has ridden 163 horses at the track that stoically sits beneath the historic Twin Spires. He has crossed the finish line first 35 times, with 23 seconds and 27 thirds. His horses have earned over $1.468 million in purses and his win percentage is a solid .21%.

That win total of 35, gives Hernandez a solid 5-win margin over the second leading rider and perennial Churchill Downs riding champ, Corey Lanerie. The latter has amassed a record of 30-42-37, but has 32 more mounts than the man he is chasing for yet another title here.

Here’s a closer look at the top 25 riders this meet.

1Mike E. Smith6101$1,551,32517%233%
2Florent Geroux120221816$1,487,15718%5647%
3Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.163352327$1,469,76721%8552%
4Corey J. Lanerie195304237$1,436,15715%10956%
5Jose L. Ortiz14441$1,358,98829%964%
6Ricardo Santana, Jr.9318198$886,38719%4548%
7Julien R. Leparoux7718811$697,57023%3748%
8Shaun Bridgmohan75151213$684,28220%4053%
9John R. Velazquez11310$597,31527%436%
10Adam Beschizza919513$425,56510%2730%
11Javier Castellano17043$415,9040%741%
12James Graham9712119$412,04312%3233%
13Robby Albarado837126$401,7958%2530%
14Chris Landeros59897$395,09714%2441%
15Irad Ortiz, Jr.9104$385,64011%556%
16Gabriel Saez9881111$347,7388%3031%
17Edgar Morales97121416$339,70012%4243%
18Joseph Rocco, Jr.56875$251,60414%2036%
19Calvin H. Borel636610$244,90710%2235%
20Joel Rosario18132$242,5516%633%
21Channing Hill57779$236,75512%2340%
22Jack Gilligan57865$230,15714%1933%
23Tyler Gaffalione2100$224,33050%150%
24Declan Cannon61775$221,86311%1931%
25Flavien Prat8300$221,73038%338%

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • 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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