The Amazing Mike Smith

Saturday was opening day of the winter meet at Santa Anita Park.  It proved to be a memorable one for jockey Mike Smith.

In the process of Winning four of seven Stakes races on the card, Smith bested Jerry Bailey as the all-time leader among jockeys for Grade 1 Wins in North America.

Smith surpassed his fellow Hall of Famer, with Win number 217, when OMAHA BEACH cruised to Victory in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes.

“It is very humbling,” Smith told reporters after his Win in the Malibu.  “I am a very blessed man and when you are blessed, opportunities arise, like I get to ride for Mr. (Richard) Mandella and all kinds of things happen.”

Smith admitted that he was surprised at the number of Grade 1 Victories that he’s accumulated over the years.

“Wow,” he said.  “You shocked me right there to be honest with you.  You’re blessed to Win one in this sport; 217, man I can’t even tell you.”

Of the jockeys that have Won at least 100 or more Grade 1 races, only three (not including Smith) are currently riding – John Velazquez (197), Javier Castellano (120) and Kent Desormeaux (120).

The 54 year-old Smith went on to talk about Bailey;  “…Jerry is someone that comes from my hometown.  I was born in New Mexico but raised in Texas in El Paso where he’s from. His father was my dentist.  I went to the same high school that he did.”

“When his high school gave him an honor, I was in the grandstand watching him.  I wasn’t even riding yet;  I was just a kid.  He’s always meant a lot to me, so to surpass him means a whole lot.”

The Daily Racing Blog salutes the ever-modest, Big Money Mike Smith, and wishes him continued success.  Safe trip Mike.

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