2011 Preakness Stakes Favorites: 5 Jockeys to Watch on Race Day

John ValentovicAnalyst IMay 20, 2011

2011 Preakness Stakes Favorites: 5 Jockeys to Watch on Race Day

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07:  Jockey John Velazquez, riding Animal Kingdom #16, celebrates winning the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    On Monday, I gave you some horses worth considering if you are looking to make a straight bet.

    Today, I am going to change things up a bit.  To the casual racing fan, the outcome of a race depends solely on the horses.  In reality, that isn't the case.

    Another important part of horse racing is the jockeys and the job they do guiding these horses around the track.  They are there with them every stride they take.  They are the ones who position them both succeed as well as fail.  Horse racing is one of the most dangerous sports there is, and jockeys literally put their life on the line every time they mount a horse and head out to the track.  And unlike other star athletes, they rarely get noticed.

    So now that I have showered jockeys with a little well-deserved love, here are a few to keep an eye on this Saturday during the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes.

Robby Albarado

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    ARCADIA, CA - NOVEMEBR 6:  Jockey Robby Albarado celebrates winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf race with Tapitsfly during the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park November 6, 2009 in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Harry How/G
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Just a few weeks ago, Albarado was preparing to ride Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby.  Now, he is preparing to try and beat the Kentucky Derby winner in the Preakness.

    It was announced last week that Albarado would ride King Congie, who is 20-1 on the morning line.

    Albarado was understandable upset after the Derby, as he was supposed to be the jockey atop Animal Kingdom that day.  A few days before the race, he was injured when he was thrown from his horse and sustained significant injuries to his face.  He took the next couple of days off, but made it clear to Barry Irwin and the rest of Team Valor that he would be ready to go.

    Irwin felt differently, and informed Albarado that they were going to replace him with John Velazquez.  And the rest is history.

    It's going to be a little personal for Albarado on Saturday.

Ramon Dominguez

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03:  Ramon Dominguez, riding #14 Monba, makes his way to the starting gate durinng the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 3, 2008 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Dominguez is one of the most accomplished riders in all of the sports, and he even topped the earnings list for jockeys 2010

    But on Saturday, he will attempt to do something he has never done before: win the Preakness.  He has come in second place twice, but has never crossed the wire first.

    Furthermore, he will attempt the drought aboard Dance City, who is listed at 12-1 on the morning line.  What's interesting here is that Dominguez has never been aboard Dance City in any of the horse's four lifetime starts.

    That is something that is rare in these big races.

John Velazquez

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07:  Jockey John Velazquez, riding Animal Kingdom #16, celebrates winning the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Velazquez will be aboard Animal Kingdom, and the duo will be looking to capture the second leg of the Triple Crown and earn a trip to Belmont in three weeks.

    The victory two weeks ago was Velazquez's first Kentucky Derby win.  He has also has won the Belmont Stakes as well as a number of other high-profile races.  Like Dominguez, he also has never won the Preakness.

    But Johnny V is one of the best in the business, meaning this could be the year he breaks through at Pimlico.

Russell Sheldon

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    Just 24 years of age, Sheldon, who is based out of Maryland, has already won a meet title at Laurel Park, and also has ridden very well at Pimlico during his short career.

    Sheldon, the jockey who nobody knows about, will be riding an underdog horse who only has won eye.  The duo have won a number of races before, but now will be stepping up to face much stiffer competition.

    Concealed Identity is one of the longest shots in the field at 30-1, but there will be plenty of people rooting for him and Sheldon come Saturday.

Victor Espinoza

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    ARCADIA, CA - APRIL 03: Jockey Victor Espinoza smiles after riding Pincelada to victory in the Grey Goose on April 3, 2010 at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
    Jeff Golden/Getty Images

    Something interesting here is the fact that Espinoza will be riding the 20-1 Mr. Commons instead of Midnight Interlude, who is also in this race.

    Espinoza finished 16th in the Derby aboard Midnight Interlude, but chose to ride a horse he has never ridden before instead of taking another shot with the Bob Baffert trained colt.

    Just something small to keep in mind.