The horses will do all the work during the Belmont Stakes, but the jockeys could also play a pivotal role in determining who wins the Triple Crown's last event.
You may think jockey success amounts to who happens to sit on the fastest colt, but the numbers show that certain jockeys fare considerably better than their counterparts. A group of elite riders win more and sport a higher percentage of top-three finishes, which of course leads to more money earned.
Equibase breaks down all these factors to help us decipher which jockeys give their horse an edge leading up to the Belmont Stakes. Such tidbits could ease the selection process just a tad for anxious bettors still searching for a winner before Saturday.
5. Irad Ortiz Jr. - Incognito
Irad Ortiz Jr. belongs in an exclusive club of jockeys with triple-digit victories in 2013. Incognito's rider currently holds 101 wins this year, and will look for No. 102 this weekend.
Ortiz Jr. ranks seventh with approximately $5 million of winnings and 10th with 274 top-three finishes. These marks, however, may represent quantity over quality for the experienced 20-year-old.
Only three jockeys have started more races than Ortiz Jr., and his winning percentage of 17 percent is nothing special compared to the other men and woman on this list.
Still, the youngster has accomplished much in a short time and could cement himself among the best with a strong showing at Belmont.
4. Rosie Napravnik - Unlimited Budget
The only female jockey will hope to trump the men with her filly, Unlimited Budget.
Rosie Napravnik will become the first woman to compete in all three Triple Crown races during the same year when she takes the track at Belmont this Saturday. That does not mean you should treat her as a novelty or gimmick; she is truly one of the best.
Napravnik has won one-quarter of her events, more than any of her other top adversaries at Belmont. She yields a top-three finish 57 percent of the time, including Mylute's third-place showing at the 2013 Preakness.
The 25-year-old New Jersey native led Five Sixteen to a respectable fifth place in her first crack at Belmont last year. With her at the helm, Unlimited Budget is gaining traction as a popular sleeper to win it all.
3. Javier Castellano - Revolutionary
Unlike his younger colleagues above, Javier Castellano is a 35-year-old veteran who brings ample experience to the table.
But don't let that fool you into thinking he's slowing down. Castellano won 22 percent of his races this year, collecting the second-most winnings of any jockey.
He added 121 runner-up finishes to his 143 wins. In addition to capturing two Breeders' Cups, Castellano won the 2006 Preakness with Bernardini.
After Orb and Oxbow, Revolutionary is a popular choice to impress at Belmont. His leader should further instill confidence in that choice.
2 . John R. Velazquez - Overanalyze
At 41 years of age, John R. Velazquez has been doing this for quite some time.
He landed his first victory 23 years ago and will look to add to his laundry list of accolades on Saturday.
Velazquez touts 143 first-place finishes this year, which is good for 22 percent of his runnings. He's also racked up more second-place finishes (121) than anyone else. Second might be unacceptable for Ricky Bobby, but it's still pretty good.
His legacy is already intact, but Velazquez could fortify even more by propelling Overanalyze to a strong showing at Belmont.
1. Joel Rosario - Orb
The 2013 Most Valuable Jockey trophy goes to Joel Rosario, who heads into the Test of the Champion with a Kentucky Derby win.
Rosario has collected $9.8 million this year, the most of any jockey. He stands one victory behind Russell A. Baze for the most triumphs, but has still won 23 percent of his bouts.
He has prior Belmont experience, placing third in 2011, so this is familiar territory for the 28-year-old Dominican. While Orb won't be gunning for a Triple Crown, two out of three is not too shabby. It will certainly add an exclamation point on top of an already exemplary year for Rosario.
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