Triple Crown-winning jockey and New Mexico native Mike Smith will make a celebratory appearance at Ruidoso Downs on July 8.
“Mike is a global celebrity now and we are honored by his willingness to come to Ruidoso Downs to share his Triple Crown celebration with us,” Ruidoso Downs’ president and general manager Jeff True said. “He is a wonderful ambassador of our sport and he never forgets where he came from.
“He told me his family will fill half the grandstand so we’re gonna welcome them and all the other acing fans in New Mexico that day to celebrate his amazing accomplishment”.
Smith, born in Roswell, won this year’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and then the Belmont Stakes while riding Justify to win the Triple Crown. Justify became the 13th Triple Crown winner in American racing history. At 52, Smith is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.
Smith mentioned Ruidoso Downs while Justify was returning to the Belmont Park winner’s circle, saying, “He left (the gate) like he was at Ruidoso going 440 yards.”
Smith was also the primary rider for the champion mare Zenyatta and the all-time leading money earner Arrogate.
Custom made posters of Smith winning the Belmont Stakes will be on sale at Ruidoso Downs for $10. All proceeds from poster sales benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund.
Smith will be at east end of the grandstand for a special autograph signing session. There will be 100 posters on sale for $25 each and Smith will sign the posters for the buyers. Again, all proceeds go to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund.
Smith will then lead the post parade for the seventh race.
Like so many jockeys, Smith began riding at a young age. He was raised on a farm outside of Dexter, New Mexico and by age 11 was riding in match races.
In 1982, Smith gained his jockey’s license and recorded the first win of his hall of fame career at the now closed The Downs at Santa Fe. He went on to ride on the Midwestern circuit, New York circuit and is now on the Southern California circuit.
Smith is known at “Big Money Mike” for his success in the world’s premier races. He has two Kentucky Derby wins, two Preakness Stakes wins, three Belmont Stakes wins and a record 27 Breeders’ Cup wins. He has also won the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Dubai World Cup.
Inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2003, Smith’s mounts have earned $313 million and he has nearly 5,500 wins. He had his best year in 2017 when his horses earned $20,540,871 with an average earnings per start of $74,694.
Smith has one official start on a quarter horse. Back in 2002, the Smith-ridden Check Him Out finished third in the $156,800 El Primero Del Ano Derby at Los Alamitos.