Preakness 2013: Breaking Down Best Jockeys at Pimlico

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Preakness 2013: Breaking Down Best Jockeys at Pimlico
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Having an experienced, top-flight jockey in the saddle is invaluable in Triple Crown races, and there is plenty of star power in that regard at the 2013 Preakness Stakes.

Though some Hall of Fame mounters are aboard relative long shots, they can't possibly be discounted in their respective bids to spoil Orb's chances at horse racing's ultimate trifecta. However, Joel Rosario will be aboard Orb, and he happens to be the most prolific jockey of the 2013 season.

Let's take a closer look at Rosario and the other notable jockeys that could be X-factors in determining the outcome of the race for the Black-Eyed Susan Blanket.

Note: All information on jockeys, unless otherwise indicated, is courtesy of Equibase.com. Prior horse results and information was obtained from Preakness.com.

 

 

Post Positions and Complete Field

Post No.

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

Odds

1

Orb

Shug McGaughey

Joel Rosario

1-1

2

Goldencents

Doug O'Neill

Kevin Krigger

8-1

3

Titletown Five

D. Wayne Lukas

Julien Leparoux

30-1

4

Departing

Albert M. Stall Jr.

Brian Hernandez Jr.

6-1

5

Mylute

Tom Amoss

Rosie Napravnik

5-1

6

Oxbow

D. Wayne Lukas

Gary Stevens

15-1

7

Will Take Charge

D. Wayne Lukas

Mike Smith

12-1

8

Govenor Charlie

Bob Baffert

Martin Garcia

12-1

9

Itsmyluckyday

Eddie Plesa Jr.

John Velazquez

10-1

*Odds via KY Derby Contenders on Twitter, as of 7 p.m. ET, May 15

 

 

Gary Stevens (Oxbow)

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Name a marquee race, and Stevens has probably won it. No jockey has the resume that Stevens boasts, and that alone should generate hype around his speedy colt, Oxbow.

Stevens will look to win the career Triple Crown three times over with a victory at the Preakness on Saturday.Teaming with a fellow Hall of Famer, trainer D. Wayne Lukas, can't hurt his cause, and the duo has won big races together before.

After retiring from riding for seven years, the 50-year-old Stevens has been revitalized and rode Oxbow to a respectable sixth-place finish at Churchill Downs.

History bodes well for Oxbow's No. 6 post position, as Stephen Panus alludes to:

For his illustrious career, Stevens has three Kentucky Derby triumphs, two Preakness victories and three wins at the Belmont Stakes to his credit. Thus, there aren't many better jockeys to place aboard a dark horse than Stevens.

 


Mike Smith (Will Take Charge)

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Chances of winning this leg of the 2013 Triple Crown improve for Smith after he rode Palace Malice to a blistering pace at the Kentucky Derby, only to fade quickly down the final straightaway.

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Smith has ridden over 5,000 winners in his career, and like Stevens, uniquely captured the career Triple Crown in three different decades, with the Preakness in 1993, the Kentucky Derby in 2005 and the Belmont in 2010.

Will Take Charge is yet another Lukas product, and has the best odds of winning amongst his three entries. The horse ran eighth in the Kentucky Derby, and is getting a massive jockey upgrade.

The longevity and consistency of Smith is what makes him so impressive, as well as his incredible toughness and resilience.

In 1998, Smith suffered a broken shoulder on a bad spill, then broke his back just months later after he finally recovered from the prior injury (h/t FollowHorseRacing.com). Years of grinding made his maiden 2005 Kentucky Derby win aboard 50-to-1 long-shot Giacomo that much sweeter.

 

 

Joel Rosario (Orb)

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The two counterparts broken down on this list ahead of Rosario may have a longer record of sustained greatness, but there's no question that Rosario is the hottest jockey this season.

Rosario leads all jockeys with 141 wins and is the top money earner thus far, grossing over $8 million in 2013. He had been in the top five in earnings since 2009, but with his breakthrough at Churchill Downs, it has boosted his status significantly.

The field for the Preakness consists of only eight other horses, and it's clear that Orb is a cut above the rest. Check out what Rosario had to say about Orb's speed, as documented by BloodHorse.com's Claire Novak:

A shorter track at Pimlico is going to tweak the strategy a little bit. However, it shouldn't be difficult for Rosario to manage, because he's demonstrated an uncanny ability to cross the finish line first.

Renowned trainer Shug McGaughey would notch the only missing jewel in the Triple Crown with a win in Baltimore. At the rate Rosario is winning, he may help Orb get it all done in one year for the first time since 1978.

 

 

John Velazquez (Itsmyluckyday)

Harry How/Getty Images

A nasty spill just one day after riding Verrazano to a victory at the Grade I Wood Memorial Stakes, Velazquez took a spill and injured one of his ribs and chipped the his right radius bone.

Such a setback could not have healed completely with only a few weeks to recover ahead of the Kentucky Derby, and that had to be at least partially to blame for the relatively poor run.

Now that Velazquez is mounted on a new horse with more room to operate and ampler time to rehabilitate his arm, he can return to the confines of Pimlico with a little bit more stability and confidence.

Though the Hall of Famer has never won the Preakness specifically, his success at this venue is undeniable, as horse racing statistician Gary Dougherty highlights:

Similar to Orb's trainer McGaughey, the Preakness is all that's missing from Velazquez's Triple Crown pedigree. Itsmyluckyday had a poor Kentucky Derby run, but the decreased traffic and experience of Velazquez should enhance his prospects and translate to a far better outcome.


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