Ranking the 10 Best Jockeys in the United States

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2013

Ranking the 10 Best Jockeys in the United States

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    It's almost always about the ability and power of the horse.

    If you have the fastest and strongest horse, you should win most of the time in thoroughbred racing.

    But there are other factors. Dozens of them. Luck being one of them.

    However, the ability of the jockey is always a huge factor. A rider with skill, intelligence, experience and physical strength can often change the results of a race.

    A tough, experienced jockey can lead his horse on the shortest trip around the track and help him steal a win over the fastest horse.

    An intelligent jockey can assess the field, hold off on his charge until the last moment and steal the victory at the wire.

    Here's a look at the 10 best jockeys in the Unites States right now.

10. Shaun Bridgmohan

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    Shaun Bridgmohan has been one of the most successful jockeys since turning professional in 1997. He has won consistently and has gotten his share of the top horses in the business.

    Bridgmohan has hit the board in four Breeders' Cup races and has more than $104 million in earnings throughout his career. His best year came in 2008 when he won 1,008 races and had more than $9 million in earnings.

    Bridgmohan has been quite solid in 2013. He has won 60 races, has nearly $2.2 million in earnings and has earned $7,692 per start.

9. Edgar Prado

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    Edgar Prado has been a consistent winner since turning professional in 1986.

    Prado is perhaps best known as the jockey of Barbaro, the ill-fated winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby. Prado is also a two-time winner of the Belmont States.

    Prado has won 6,629 races in 36,007 starts. He has nearly $245 million in career earnings.

    Prado can still get it done, with 43 victories and more than $2.2 million in earnings in 2013 so far.

8. Joseph Talamo

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    Joseph Talamo, a 23-year-old Louisiana native, has emerged as one of the sharpest jockeys in the business.

    Talamo won the 2009 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint aboard California Flag and also has two other third-place finishes in Breeders' Cup races.

    Talamo had his best year in 2012, when he won 1,256 races and had more than $11.8 million in earnings. Talamo continues to perform well this year. He has won 42 races and has nearly $2.7 million in earnings.

7. Garrett Gomez

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    Garrett Gomez has been riding professionally since 1988, and it didn't take long before he was recognized as a talented rider who could command the top horses in the business.

    Gomez finished second aboard Pioneer of the Nile in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. He also has two Breeders' Cup victories to his credit.

    He has more than $201 million in earnings throughout his career. His best year came in 2008 when he won 1,023 races and had more than $23 million in earnings.

    Gomez is having a solid 2013 racing year. He has won 46 races and has nearly $2.8 million in earnings.

6. Jose Ortiz

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    Jose L. Ortiz is rapidly becoming one of the great stars in the business.

    In his second year as a professional race rider, Ortiz has an aggressive style that allows him to get the most out of his horses on a consistent basis.

    Ortiz has 176 victories in his career and more than $6.3 million in earnings. He has won 78 races this year and has nearly $3.3 million in earnings.

    In 2013, Ortiz has hit the board in 56 percent of his races and has won on 19 percent of his mounts. He is already one of the best jockeys, and his future looks even more promising.

5. Rosie Napravnik

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    Rosie Napravnik is one of the toughest and best jockeys in the business.

    It's never easy for a woman to make it in this rough-and-tumble business, but Napravnik has earned her spurs since becoming a professional in 2005.

    Napravnik was a winner aboard Shanghai Bobby in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

    She has 1,521 career victories and more than $48 million in earnings. She has been performing at a spectacular pace in 2013 with 102 victories and nearly $3.7 million in earnings.

    Narpravnik leads all jockeys this year in winning percentage by coming in first in 27 percent of the races she has entered.

4. Rafael Bejarano

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    Rafael Bejarano started riding professionally in 2002 and became one of the industry's stars the following year.

    Bejarano is a two-time winner in the Breeders' Cup and had back-to-back second- and third-place finishes in the Belmont Stakes in 2005 and 2006.

    He has won 2,964 races in his career and has earned nearly $140 million. In 2013, he has won 72 races and has $3.8 million in earnings.

    Bejarano is averaging more than $13,000 earned per mount this year and has won 25 percent of his races.

3. Joel Rosario

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    Joel Rosario has been riding professionally since 2003 and came into his own in 2007. Since then, he has been one of the most impressive riders in the business.

    Rosario earned Breeders' Cup victories in 2009 and 2010, and he also had third-place finishes in the 2011 Belmont Stakes and the 2012 Preakness Stakes.

    Rosario has 1,557 victories in his career and nearly $76 million in earnings. He has won 86 races and nearly $4.1 million in 2013.

    He has won 22 percent of his races this year.

2. Javier Castellano

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    Javier Castellano knew he was meant to ride horses from the time he was five years old, when he got on his first horse. He never wanted to get off.

    Castellano has become one of horse racing's best jockeys. He won the 2006 Preakness Stakes aboard Bernardini and was second in the 2011 Belmont Stakes with Stay Thirsty. He has two Breeders' Cup triumphs to his credit.

    He has been riding since 1997 and has been a star since 1998. He has won 3,363 races and has earned just over $169 million for his career.

    Castellano has won 91 races in 2013 and has earned nearly $5.3 million, which is second among all jockeys. He has won 22 percent of the races he has started this year.

1. John R. Velazquez

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    John R. Velazquez is a formidable rider who is always a factor in every major race he enters.

    Velazquez won the 2011 Kentucky Derby aboard Animal Kingdom. He has also won the Belmont Stakes twice. Additionally, he has two second-place finishes in the Belmont and one more in the Preakness.

    Velazquez has won 4,985 races in his career, and his earnings have reached a staggering $285 million. He is on top of the racing world in 2013, winning 75 races with more than $5.5 million in earnings so far.

    Velazquez has won 24 percent of the races he has entered and is averaging nearly $18,000 in earnings per race this year.