2011 Kentucky Derby Favorites: 5 Jockeys to Watch on Derby Day

Collin BerglundCorrespondent IIIMay 5, 2011

2011 Kentucky Derby Favorites: 5 Jockeys to Watch on Derby Day

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The 2011 Kentucky Derby is up in the air.  With no favorite in sight, bettors are clamoring for every bit of information to make their pick more likely to win.  What's the longest race the horse has run?  How does it do in rain?  How has it performed recently?

    The most important question: Who will be riding it?

    Sport is not the domain of little men—normally.  But when horses are involved, every weekend, little men climb up on top and ride them around tracks.

    In this year's Kentucky Derby, the jockey on top of the horse will be the difference between winning and losing.  Driving one's horse to victory can make little men sports legends.

5: Anna Napravnik

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    Anna Napravnik is only the sixth female jockey in Kentucky Derby history.  None have finished among the top 10.

    Only 23, Napravnik has already made a name for herself in racing.  In 2006, she won all four top rider competitions at Pimlico and was the runner-up for the nation's top apprentice.

    Napravnik will ride Pants On Fire in the Derby and has a chance to make history as the top female finisher ever. 

4: Patrick Valenzuela

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    In 1989, Sunday Silence won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.  The name of the jockey on the back of that horse is the one and same Patrick Valenzuela, who will be riding Comma to the Top in the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

    Comma to the Top is a long-shot horse, but Valenzuela could add to his drug-addled legend with a top finish aboard the horse.

    Valenzuela has won 4,000 races, but suspensions for drug use have prevented him from entering the undisputed upper echelon of jockeys.  A Derby win this year could help his cause.

3: Jon Court

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    Jon Court began his racing career in 1980.  Since then, he has notched over 3,000 career wins.

    Archarcharch will be his first Derby mount, and he has a chance to make some noise.  Court won the Arkansas Derby on Line of David last year.  

    When Court was taken off the mount for the Kentucky Derby, Line of David finished 18th.  Court gets the most out of his horses.

    Archarcharch has the legs to win the race, and Court has as much experience as any jockey out there.  Both will probably be among the favorites come Derby Day.

2: Calvin Borel

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    Calvin Borel is the most famous name among jockeys and has won three of the last four Kentucky Derbies.

    The reason Borel is not No. 1 on this list is Twice the Appeal is a horse that might not have the legs to win the Derby.

    If Twice the Appeal can win, Borel is the guy to make it happen.  It will take another hair-raising run along the rail on the final stretch to bring this horse to victory. 

    In 2009, Borel won aboard Mine That Bird—the win was the second biggest upset in Kentucky Derby.  Another upset is well within the realm of possibility.

1: Julien Leparoux

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    Julien LeParoux has not yet won the Kentucky Derby in four tries.  This year, he figures to be a strong contender.  Dialed In, the horse he is mounting, figures to be the favorite going into the race.

    Hall-of-Famer Nick Zito trained Dialed In and has said that he thinks the horse can win the race.  

    In 2009, LeParoux won the Eclipse Award for most outstanding jockey.

    LeParoux has won a number of races at Churchill Downs throughout the years and is looking to win the big one for the first time this year.