There figures to be even more musical jockey chairs than usual ahead of the Kentucky Derby this year after Churchill Downs placed mandates requiring jockeys to be in the state of Kentucky by August 31st if they wish to ride on Derby Day.
Per trainer Bob Baffert, Johnny Velazquez rides Authentic and Florent Geroux is on Thousand Words in the Kentucky Derby.— Byron King (@BH_BKing) August 14, 2020
This is significant as neither jockey has ever been aboard their respective mount. Authentic was ridden by Drayden Van Dyke for his first four races before Mike Smith took over in the Haskell Stakes.
Thousand Words had been primarily ridden by Flavien Prat prior to Abel Cedillo getting the mount in his Shared Belief victory.
While Smith will likely ride Honor A. P. if he travels to Kentucky, Cedillo, Van Dyke and Prat appeared to be available if willing to give up their mounts at Del Mar to travel and quarantine.
Ultimately Baffert decided to make the early decision to grab two top jockeys that he knew would be in Kentucky for the race instead of waiting to see how things fell into place.
Velazquez and Baffert may be based on opposite coasts, but they are no strangers to teaming up, recently combining forces on Baffert's star filly Gamine.
Geroux has ridden for Baffert many times as well, including mounts on Improbable and Roadster in the past.
Baffert may not have the favorites for this year's race, but he made a quick point to ensure that he had a pair of his favorite riders aboard his colts.