Jockeys, like most of us, have not had an easy go of it in the gas-fueled dumpster fire that is 2020.
The COVID pandemic led to reduced purses and cancellations or postponements of major races.
It also halted racing on various circuits for weeks or months at a time and triggered restrictions that sometimes made it harder for jockeys to ride in other jurisdictions.
Despite the year’s tumult, familiar names sit atop the 2020 money list for North American jockeys.
Irad Ortiz Jr. ($20.62 million) leads the list by more than $2 million over second-place Joel Rosario ($18.12 million). Rounding out the top five were Luis Saez ($16.14 million), Tyler Gaffalione ($15.21 million) and John Velazquez ($15.09 million).
Ortiz Jr. is on pace to lead all North American riders in money earned for the third straight season. Among his seven Grade 1 Victories of 2020 are the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (MUCHO GUSTO), Breeders’ Cup Sprint (WHITMORE) and the Whitney Stakes (IMPROBABLE).
On the trainer side of the ledger, the usual suspects continued to earn in 2020.
Steve Asmussen leads all trainers across the U.S. and Canada in 2020 earnings, with $19.73 million banked. Reflecting COVID’s effects on the sport, that figure is down from the $27.5 million his runners posted in 2019, when he ranked second to Chad Brown ($31.11 million).
Brown led the North American earnings list each year from 2016 to 2019. He is fourth on the current 2020 list ($16.24 million) behind Asmussen, Brad Cox ($18.71 million) and Bob Baffert ($18.45 million).
So while 2020 may have been a down year for the aforementioned fellas, we can’t imagine any of them pacing the barn, anxiously awaiting a stimulus check in order to keep the horses in hay.
But they, like us, are certainly ready to put 2020 behind them and get out of the gate on 2021.
Riders Up !