Jockey Mike Smith was inducted into the Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2004 but he’s continued as one of the sport’s most sought after riders. He’s looking to win his second Kentucky Derby in 2015 which would be exactly ten years since his only other victory in the big race back in 2005 aboard Giacomo.
Mike Smith is at an age where lesser jockeys would be thinking about retirement, if they hadn’t called it a career already. Smith is notorious for his tortuous training regimen that most men half of his age wouldn’t be able to handle. The 49 year old Smith already has one big race victory to his credit in 2015, taking the San Antonio Stakes aboard Shared Belief. Shared Belief’s trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said simply: ““When the big money is down, that’s the guy you want.”
Smith’s Derby chances look especially strong this season since he’s currently got three mounts that are among the top twenty prospects for the race. Smith is as humble as ever about his situation: “It’s a great line-up, and they all seem to be doing real well. Now’s the time to see who graduates and moves on. I’m really blessed. All these horses are live. There’s no, ‘Oh, he might make it.’ I want to stay with them as long as I can.” His current list of Derby contenders include Conquest Typhoon (next race is the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Park, Far Right (next race Southwest at Oaklawn), Imperia (next race the Risen Star on 2/21) and Ocho Ocho Ocho (next race San Felipe at Santa Anita).
Smith is especially optimistic about Far Right who’ll go a mile and sixteenth next time out: “I think he’ll get every bit of that distance. He’s not a big horse, but he’s well made. He was finding his best stride at the end of the mile last time, and he galloped out well. We’ll find out if he can go a mile and a sixteenth. Last time, going a mile, they end at the first finish line. It’s a short stretch. This race ends at the second finish line.”