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A New York State of Racing

2014 Kentucky Derby: Jockeys Chase That Elusive Win

Calvin Borel Kentucky Derby 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
 
How hard is it for a jockey to win the Kentucky Derby?  Take a look at this list of famous retired riders, who in their noteworthy careers, were unable to win the Kentucky Derby: Ramon Dominguez (9: 0-1-0), Sandy Hawley (6: 0-0-0), Don MacBeth (9: 0-0-2), Eddie Maple (9: 0-1-2), Richard Migliore (5: 0-0-0), Randy Romero (9: 0-0-0), Shane Sellers (13: 0-0-1), George “Ice Man” Woolf (9: 0-2-0), and Manny Ycaza (9: 0-1-3).
 
Not only is it hard to win the Derby, these greats hardly managed to even get a top three finish. Some of these jockeys are in the Hall of Fame. Some have won multiple Breeders’ Cup races, the Belmont Stakes, or the Preakness, let alone most of the important races in North America.
 
To state the obvious, the Derby only happens once a year and this is just the 140th running. Twenty-three jockeys have won the Run for the Roses more than once and that is such a significant achievement that 22 of them are in the Hall of Fame.
 
Let’s take a look at the likely starters in this year’s Derby, from California Chrome (150 points) down to Uncle Sigh (24), and their probable jockeys.
 
Hoppertunity will be seeking their coveted second Derby wins, even though both are already in the Hall of Fame. Just look at their records and you will see how hard it is to win the Derby. Combined they already have had 35 starts to get those two wins, that’s a mere 5.7%.
 
Victor Espinoza has the mount on the likely Derby favorite, California Chrome. Espinoza is also going after his second win, but for him it would come in just his sixth start. He won in 2002 on War Emblem in this century’s only gate to wire victory.
 
Joel Rosario has chosen General A Rod as his Derby mount. He will go for his second Derby victory in a row after winning last year on Orb. Only six riders have won two consecutive Derbies, including Ron Turcotte with Riva Ridge and Secretariat in 1972 and 1973, Calvin Borel with Mine That Bird and Super Saver in 2009 and 2010, and Eddie Delahoussaye with Gato Del Sol and Sunny’s Halo in 1982 and 1983.
 
Calvin Borel will be on Ride On Curlin in this year’s race. He of course has 3 Derby wins and one of the best records in the history of the race (11: 3-0-2), over a period of 20 years from 1993 to 2013.
 
Twelve of this year’s possible Derby riders have never won the race, which includes two rookies in Ricardo Santana and Jose Ortiz. Steve Cauthen won the Derby in his only attempt in 1978 on future Triple Crown winner Affirmed. Most recently Mario Gutierrez took the race as a rookie in 2012 on I’ll Have Another.
 
UPDATE -- Irad Ortiz has been named the rider of Uncle Sigh, thus both New York-breds in the Derby field will be ridden by a rookie Ortiz brother.
 
Corey Nakatani and Robby Albarado have tried and failed 39 times to get the blanket of red roses. That is how difficult it is to win the Derby.
 
Take a look at the career totals of Laffit Pincay (9,530 wins), Pat Day (8,803), and Jorge Velasquez (6,795). How hard is it to win the Kentucky Derby? These three Hall of Famers have only three Derby wins between them in 56 attempts. Pincay won in 1984 on Swale, Velasquez in 1981 on Pleasant Colony, and Day rode 18-1 long shot Lil E. Tee to victory in 1992.
 
Russell Baze who has won 12,228 races in his still active career has only had two Derby mounts. His best finish was in 2006 when he finished 13th. Baze has not had a ride in the Derby since then.
 
Rajiv Maragh and Wicked Strong are my top choice to win this year’s Derby on May 3rd. Maragh has a record of 3: 0-1-0 in the Run for the Roses. His best finish was in third in 2011 on Mucho Macho Man. 

 

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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: Jockeys Chase That Elusive Win...

travel_vic · REALISM pays a visit from another village ·
tv Obviously, the general quality of the horse and its preparedness on that day is far and away the dominant factor in winning a horse race. But as someone who uses descriptive statistics professionally, I can tell you that 15% jockey influence would account for a tremendous amount of variance across races. In fact so would 10% or even 5%. If two horses are even reasonably close to one another, a "jockey factor" of 5 - 10% decides is enormous. I suspect it's that a good jockey helps ensure a ride that allows the horse to maximize its abilities. A great jockey almost ensures it. A poor jockey puts the horse in situations where its abilities are severely, tactically compromised.
tv Obviously, the general quality of the horse and its preparedness on that day is far and away the dominant factor in winning a horse race. But as someone who uses descriptive statistics professionally, I can tell you that 15% jockey influence would account for a tremendous amount of variance across races. In fact so would 10% or even 5%. If two horses are even reasonably close to one another, a "jockey factor" of 5 - 10% decides is enormous. I suspect it's that a good jockey helps ensure a ride that allows the horse to maximize its abilities. A great jockey almost ensures it. A poor jockey puts the horse in situations where its abilities are severely, tactically compromised.
You are the greatest horse ever Secretariat.You will always live on.
I love these stats... separates the "money jocks" from the "choke artists".
You always say that tv, and you are still wrong. A rider won't win a race for his horse, but a rider can certainly lose a race for his horse. So don't say a rider will not make a difference, because riders do make bad decisions that cost them races.
if the COLT has a shot, the rider will not make the difference
If Ride on Curlin is ridden by Calvin Borel, it could be his day
REALISM pays a visit from another village
I was rereading an old Turf and Sport Digest, August 1965 to be exact, and here are some famous trainers and jockeys answer to this question.sunny Jim Fitzsimmons said the horse is 90%. However much depends on the jockey and the race. Take Arcaro you could depend on him to be there for the entire race. Others not." Hadley Woodhouse said" if you don't have the horse you'll get nowhere." Allen Jerkens "felt some jockeys help a horse a little bit." Bill Boland felt the jockey was most important with a difficult or unruly horse. Hirsch Jacobs said" If I get the best horse, there are plenty of riders who can win on him." Buddy Jacobson said "only on rare occasions does a jockey contribute much." Shoemaker said that"some horses run better for certain jockeys." Woody Stephens said "jockeys can be important on certain horses. Take Bald Eagle. He had to be handled just so to do his best and only Manny Ycaza could do it. We put Hartsck on him and he got rank and wouldn't put out his best." I quoted Hirsch Jacobs previously but the full quote is "give me the horse. If I get the best horse, there are plenty of riders that can win on him. If I get a bad horse, it doesn't matter." Jacobs quote pretty much sums up their opinions on jockey importance. The article concludes that it was generally agreed by the trainers and riders interviewed that the jockey was only 20 percent of the team. ( Turf and Sport Digest August 1965 pp.18, 31-32)
Andy I thought I saw Calvin bend over and Mine That Bird turn his head up and whispered into Calvin's ear and tell him what they were going to do. I'ms sure I saw MTB say hold on Calvin, I'm going to give you the ride of your life.
Was Calvin Borel a factor when Mine That Bird won the Derby at 50-1?
horses RUN riders don't Overlay whatever baloney you care to as dogma is easier to understand than logic
So if it is only that Shoe and Pincay get the best horses shouldn't we say they have the best agents and not that they are the best riders? And lets say that a jockey is 15% of the horse winning a race, well 15% is a lot considering how many big races come down to a head or neck victory. Personally I think a horse has a certain amount of talent or ability and no jockey is going to get any more out of the horse, so the jockeys job is to get that maximum level of talent out of the horse. They do it by putting them in the best position to win and avoid mistakes that don't allow them to run to their full potential. Some jockeys are better than others at this and this is why they get the best horses and have the best records.
As to how important a jockey is, I always remember the words of Hirsch Jacobs when asked that question: "If I get the best horse, there are plenty of riders that can win on him. If I get a bad horse, it doesn't matter."
Snoop the Eve hint went over his head . Picture you painted was not clear.
one amongst the hundreds and hundreds does not negate scientific fact which only is growing in allowing us a deeper understanding of how randomd both the genome and methylation and histome coverage actually workds
one amongst the hundreds and hundreds does not negate scientific fact which only is growing in allowing us a deeper understanding of how randomd both the genome and methylation and histome coverage actually workds
and that does not even cover variable gene expression coded into the genome but not expressed.
…boost from the blue hen mares. >> would Toussaud be specific enough? Please no narrative fallacy or BlackSwan/Eve dodges :D

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