As a guest Saturday on Horse Racing Radio Network 54-year-old Mike Smith told host Mike Penna that he wants to get back to riding as soon as possible, amid a shutdown at Santa Anita Park.
“Another two to three years if all goes well.” That was Smith’s response when asked how much longer he would like to continue to ride.
Enshrined in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2003, the two-time Eclipse Award Outstanding Jockey (1993, 1994) has been riding professionally since 1982.
The rider of Triple Crown Winner JUSTIFY in 2018 and Winner of 26 Breeders’ Cup races, Smith said he’s “so blessed just to get the opportunity to ride some of these great horses that I’m riding.
“I don’t ride near as many as I used to ride anymore. But I’m blessed to be riding for top trainers and really good horses.”
Smith, whose top current assignment is on the reigning Champion mare MIDNIGHT BISOU, has Won 5,562 races in 33,556 career starts. His mounts have accumulated $328,813,349 dollars in earnings. That’s a lot of hay !
He credits his discipline in staying in top physical form for his longevity.
“I’ve stayed in good enough shape. I’ve always said that if I’d done anything right early on in my career, it was taking up physical fitness,” Smith said. “It’s starting to really pay off in my later years.
“I’m 54 and I feel like a kid. I still can do the same kind of workouts that I could do 10 years ago. As long as I can continue to do that, I’ll keep going. I’m having more fun now, to be honest with you, than I did early on.”
Smith has not ridden in a race since March 22nd with racing at Santa Anita Park declared a non-essential business and halted during the COVID-19 pandemic. That order from the Los Angeles County Health Department came down on March 27th.
In the meantime, Smith has settled into a routine.
“I get up in the morning and go for a run. That’s about all you can do,” he told the radio host. “I come back, watch a little TV, have a little lunch and then I usually go out for a bike ride just before dinner. I come back, have dinner, then watch a little more TV, then start all over again.
“Hopefully this will be over soon. I’d love to ride another few years.”
The Daily Racing Blog salutes Mike Smith for not only avoiding the Quarantine Fifteen but for his years of diligently staying fit and on top of his game.