With a win in the Belmont Stakes that made Justify the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown, Mike Smith was voted Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for June 4 – 10, 2018. 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.
Mike Smith became the 12th jockey in history to win the American Thoroughbred Triple Crown on Saturday at Belmont Park. He and heavily favored Justify ($3.60) broke sharply from the inside post, going to the lead as expected and winning by two lengths over the fast-closing runner-up Gronkowski in the 150th running of the $1,500,000 Belmont Stakes (G1).
The win gave Bob Baffert his second Triple Crown, joining “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons as the only other trainer to train two Triple Crown champions.
Justify is owned by China Horse Club and Winstar Farms and was bred in Kentucky by John Gunther. He is by Scat Daddy, out of the Ghostzapper mare Stage Magic; remarkably, six other Triple Crown winners factor into his pedigree.
The 3-year-old colt bucked the supposed curse of Apollo by winning the Kentucky Derby despite not starting as a 2-year-old. Undefeated in six starts, Justify progressed from his maiden special weight debut to winning the Triple Crown in just 111 days.
Smith has been Justify’s regular rider since his second start, an allowance event at Santa Anita in March. Together, the pair won the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) prior to their Belmont appearance.
Smith began his day at Belmont Park with a win in the $750,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) aboard Abel Tasman. Smith and Abel Tasman ($4.00) gained the lead early and extended it into a seven-length victory over a field of five other older fillies and mares. Smith also led Abel Tasman to victory in the 2017 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
The Hall of Fame rider has earned $7.8 million in 2018, with 27 wins in 120 starts. His career earnings exceed $313 million.
Both of Smith’s wins for the week came in Grade 1 events; he was two for seven for the week for a win rate of 29% and finished in the money on 43% of his mounts.
Despite the Triple Crown accomplishment, Smith was second behind Irad Ortiz, Jr. by both total and stakes earnings. Smith earned $1,382,500 in seven stakes starts compared to Ortiz’ $1,510,166 in stakes and $1,756,536 total earnings. Ortiz won five stakes races over the weekend, including a Grade 1, two Grade 2 events and a Grade 3.
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