Kentucky Derby 2020: Baffert Picks Jockeys for Derby Horses

Kentucky Derby 2020: Baffert Picks Jockeys for Derby Horses
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

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.

RELATED – More lenient jockey rules set in place for Kentucky Derby

The dominos began to fall on Friday when Bob Baffert confirmed to The BloodHorse's Byron King that John Velazquez would ride Authentic and Florent Geroux would ride Thousand Words.

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.

2020 Kentucky Derby (G1)

*Rating is based on HRN fan votes, which rank the Top Active Horses in training.
RankSilksHorse / SireRatingTrainer / JockeyLast StartStatus
 Tiz the Law
Constitution
7.97
B. Tagg
1st, 2020 Travers Stakes (G1) 
Probable
 Art Collector
Bernardini
7.44
T. Drury
1st, 2020 Ellis Park Derby (LS) 
Probable
 Honor A. P.
Honor Code
7.29
J. Shirreffs
2nd, 2020 Shared Belief Stakes (LS) 
Probable
 Sole Volante
Karakontie
6.93
P. Biancone
6th, 2020 Belmont Stakes (G1) 
Probable
 Authentic
Into Mischief
6.80
B. Baffert
1st, 2020 Haskell Stakes (G1) 
Probable
 King Guillermo
Uncle Mo
6.80
J. Avila
2nd, 2020 Arkansas Derby (G1) 
Probable
 Enforceable
Tapit
6.73
M. Casse
4th, 2020 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) 
Probable
 Dr Post
Quality Road
6.52
T. Pletcher
3rd, 2020 Haskell Stakes (G1) 
Possible
 Ny Traffic
Cross Traffic
6.49
S. Joseph, Jr.
2nd, 2020 Haskell Stakes (G1) 
Probable
 Country Grammer
Tonalist
6.40
C. Brown
5th, 2020 Travers Stakes (G1) 
Probable
 Caracaro
Uncle Mo
6.29
G. Delgado
2nd, 2020 Travers Stakes (G1) 
Probable
 Max Player
Honor Code
6.21
L. Rice
3rd, 2020 Travers Stakes (G1) 
Probable
 Necker Island
Hard Spun
6.03
S. Hough
3rd, 2020 Ellis Park Derby (LS) 
Possible
 Thousand Words
Pioneerof the Nile
5.99
B. Baffert
1st, 2020 Shared Belief Stakes (LS) 
Probable
 Shirl's Speight
Speightstown
5.89
R. Attfield
1st, 2020 Marine (G3) 
Probable
 Finnick The Fierce
Dialed In
5.78
R. Hernandez
7th, 2020 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) 
Probable
 Attachment Rate
Hard Spun
5.54
D. Romans
2nd, 2020 Ellis Park Derby (LS) 
Probable
 Major Fed
Ghostzapper
5.48
G. Foley
2nd, 2020 Indiana Derby (G3)
Probable

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