Wins at three tracks last week, including the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby, earned Jon Court the title of Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for July 31 – August 6, 2017. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America. Jockey of the Week is sponsored by Animal Element’s Foundation Detox and Product X Performance Enhancer.
Jon Court and Colonelsdarktemper ($16.00) found the lead early and repeatedly shook off rivals to win the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (G3) at Mountaineer on Saturday. The winning pair set the pace with Nik Goodwin and Heartwood shadowing until the far turn; Deshawn Parker and Game Over took over the challenge at the top of the stretch. Court and Colonelsdarktemper controlled the pace early, setting reasonable fractions to defend against the closers in the field.
Court’s father-in-law, William “Jinks” Fires, trains the son of Colonel John for owner Anthony Foyt, Jr. Court has been aboard for each of the colt’s eight lifetime starts, including second-place finishes in the Indiana Derby (G3) in July and the Matt Winn (G3) in June. Colonelsdarktemper broke his maiden in his debut at Oaklawn Park in February.
This was Court’s second victory in the West Virginia Derby. His first win in the race was in 1998 aboard Da Devil, in which he defeated a field of 12 with a stalking trip to win at 13-1 over heavy favorite One Bold Stroke.
Court was the fourth leading rider by stakes earnings and the fifth leading rider by total earnings among all North American jockeys last week. He earned $520,355 last week, increasing his 2017 total to $2,525,258 and his lifetime total to over $101 million.
He won half of his 10 starts and picked up a second-place finish while riding at three tracks last week: Mountaineer, Ellis Park and Indiana Grand. Prior to the West Virginia Derby, Court finished second with Corby in the $75,000 West Virginia Senate President’s Cup Stakes, a neck behind Corey Lanerie and La Piba, and four lengths ahead of post-time favorite and third-place finisher Boreale.
Court, who has won the Ellis Park riding title six times in his career, is currently in second place in the track’s jockey standings behind Corey Lanerie. Court has also earned riding titles at Turfway Park, Oaklawn Park and Kentucky Downs.
The winner of the George Wolfe Memorial Award in 2007, Court celebrated his most recent career milestone, his 4,000th lifetime victory, at Turfway Park last December. His career victories now total 4,056 in just over 33,000 starts.