When the bell rings and the gate springs open for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, jockey Mike Smith will attempt to become the oldest rider to win the event in its 143 year history. At 52 years of age ‘Money Mike’ will try to best Gary Stevens, who was 50 in 2013 when he rode OXBOW to an upset victory. Smith will be aboard post-time favorite and Kentucky Derby winner JUSTIFY, so you have to like his chances.
Mike Smith began to shine as a jockey in the early 1990’s, when he was a member of the New York rider colony. Between the years of 1991-1993 he had 940 wins. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that Mike switched his base of operations to California. But that didn’t stop him from winning. He owns the Breeders Cup record for victories with 26. He has 2 wins each in the KD and Belmont Stakes and one win in The Preakness. His rides have earned over $306 million dollars in prize money, second only to John Velazquez who’s mounts have garnered $383 million. Smith was elected to the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, in Saratoga, NY in 2003.
On his longevity in the sport Smith says: “I’m just glad I kept myself in good enough shape that when I do get the rides, I can perform at a high level. There are some young, strong, talented riders out there and they’re so good. I’m just happy I’m the old man that’s still a part of it.” And rest assured Mike, those young guns will be looking to reel in you and JUSTIFY on Saturday at Pimlico.
Next up: Preakness Pony Preview.