There’s a lot more to thoroughbred racing than fast horses and exciting finishes.
As with any sport, training, strategy and skill are critical to finding success on the track. The horse may be doing most of the work, but it takes a skilled jockey to harness that physical ability and turn it into a winning performance.
Joel Roasrio did just that with Orb at the Kentucky Derby, and he’ll look to do the same Saturday at the Preakness Stakes. He’ll be facing some tough competition, though.
Goldencents and Departing enter the Preakness as two of the favorites to upend their Triple Crown bid, each hoping to make history on Pimlico’s storied track. If Rosario hopes to keep the dream alive, he’ll have to outrace counterparts in Kevin Krigger and Brian Hernandez Jr.
Let’s take a look at three of the top horses in the field and highlight each challenger’s jockey as they attempt to find a big payday at Pimlico and the 2013 Preakness Stakes.
|1||Orb||Shug McGaughey||Joel Rosario||4-5|
|2||Goldencents||Doug O'Neill||Kevin Krigger||9-1|
|3||Titletown Five||D. Wayne Lukas||Julien Leparoux||33-1|
|4||Departing||Albert M. Stall, Jr.||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||7-1|
|5||Mylute||Tom Amoss||Rosie Napravnik||17-2|
|6||Oxbow||D. Wayne Lukas||Gary Stevens||18-1|
|7||Will Take Charge||D. Wayne Lukas||Mike Smith||12-1|
|8||Govenor Charlie||Bob Baffert||Martin Garcia||12-1|
|9||Itsmyluckyday||Eddie Plesa Jr.||John Velazquez||10-1|
*Odds acquired from Bovada.lv
Joel Rosario (Orb)
Rosario has been one of the most dominant jockeys in the sport this year, tallying wins in the $10 million Dubai World Cup and 2013 Kentucky Derby, not to mention another 38 wins at the Keeneland spring meet that broke Randy Romero’s single-event record, as outlined by Joe Drape of The New York Times.
Rosario is modest about his success this year, but it’s no coincidence that he’s had the golden touch in 2013. Tim Sullivan of USA Today quotes Rosario as saying, “I think it's not me. I think it's the horses. If you have good horses, you're going to run good.”
Running well and winning the Kentucky Derby over a field of 18 challengers are two different things. Rosario is one of the best jockeys at Pimlico this weekend, and trainer Shug McGaughey acknowledges that, according to Drape.
I think Joel will get him where he wants him to be, and we’ll take it from there — he’s riding like he’s seeing things before they happen. I know if Orb goes over and runs his race, I’m quietly confident that he’ll be tough to beat.
That premonition McGaughey hinted at is what makes the Rosario-Orb combination so deadly. There aren’t many horses as talented as the Derby winner, and few jockeys as tuned in to their horse as Rosario.
Kevin Krigger (Goldencents)
Krigger looked to make history at the Derby, but his bid came up short with Goldencents’ 17th place finish on May 4. He won’t have to wait long for redemption, however.
With a win at the 138th running of the Preakness, Krigger would become the first African-American jockey to win the prestigious event in 115 years.
The 29-year-old isn’t a long shot to do so, either. With 25 wins this year ($1.3 million in purse earnings) and a horse who is much better than he looked at Churchill Downs, Rosario will be looking over his shoulder from the rail position.
Krigger will be taking Goldencents from the No. 2 post, right next to Orb along the rail. The former is among the fastest pure sprinters in the field, and Krigger may find himself in good position if he can coax Goldencents to a hot start from the gate.
But whether he wins or not, Krigger seems to have his career in focus. This won’t be the last Triple Crown event the 29-year-old takes head-on. Quoted by Kristian Dyer of Yahoo! Sports, Krigger says:
It isn’t an easy road, to get here period. It’s not an easy road. It took me 12 years to get here. I’m finally here and hopefully I can continue to have the success to make it here every year. That’s my goal from here on out, to find that Derby horse, that Triple Crown horse every year.
Brian Hernandez Jr. (Departing)
The most talented of the New Shooters in this race, Departing is one of the heavy favorites to challenge Orb and secure the second leg of the Triple Crown.
With four wins in five events (including three on tracks a mile or longer), the colt is in tremendous position to earn the Black-Eyed Susan Blanket ahead of Orb, especially with a jockey like Hernandez on his back.
Hernandez was the architect of all four of those wins, including Departing’s most recent victory at the Illinois Derby on April 20. That 1 1/8-mile run was the perfect warm-up for Pimlico’s 1 3/16-mile dirt track.
The 27-year-old boasts an impressive record aboard some extremely talented thoroughbreds. He rode 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra to two wins in her first five starts as a two-year-old and also took down the 2012 Breeder’s Cup Classic for his second Grade 1 victory.
Hernandez has proved he is capable of winning big races, and he’ll be taking one of the best in the field into the Preakness this year. Look for Departing to turn some heads with in Hernandez in control, potentially taking the No. 4 post all the way to a first-place finish.