Jockey Mike Smith closes in on 5,000 career wins

by | 02.09.2012 | 7:41am

Los Angeles Times sportswriter Bill Dwyre profiles 46-year-old jockey Mike Smith, who is just 12 victories away from becoming only the 25th rider to reach the 5,000 career wins mark:

“I started to think about 5,000 after Del Mar this year,” he says. “People started telling me to look at it, go get it, enjoy it. I'm ready to do that now.”

“The first milestone he recalls with any detail is No. 4,000, June 17, 2001, at Hollywood Park, on a horse fittingly named Lift Off.”

“When you are young, you are doing a lot of things,” he says. “Something special comes along and you treat it like another day. I remember having days when I won five, even six races, and I didn't think much about it. Now, you get a little older, you start savoring things, because you know they won't always be there.”

  • CLASS ACT…ty…

  • JC

    The man is extraordinarily gifted and experienced, too.  He has such a profound sense of reading the field and when and where to move the horse he rides.  Along the lines of what made Mark Messier a hockey player in a class by himself, able to analyze and understand the play about three seconds ahead of everybody else.  Every time I watch Mike Smith win anything, especially a big stakes race that he seems to pull off against insurmountable odds, I’m left sitting there with my mouth open–“I can’t believe he just did that…”  The sort of thing that makes athletes great…  :-) 

    “After the race, an emotional Smith blamed himself. Asked now why he did
    that when he had done nothing wrong in the race, he says simply, “I’ll
    take it because I’m sure not going to let her take any.”

    This is a classy thing to say about the great Zenyatta, but it truly did look like he was having a hard time getting her rolling in about the first half of that classic 2010 race.  Then, after the first 2/3, it was as if she thought to herself, “Ok, I’ll do it!!” but by that time it was hard to make up that many lengths and the original slow ground.  And even then, Blame won it only by a nose. 

    I hope Mike Smith has come to a a point where he doesn’t blame himself or Zenyatta for this…even John Shirreffs has said, “Well, that’s horse racing”.  Mike needs to remember that, when it comes to this horse, if he were playing baseball he’d be batting .950.  It’s true that many of us have issues with control-freakdom and perfection(me included :-)), but that is amazing and nothing to sneeze at. 

    Prayers for safe runs and all best wishes to him.  I hope I get to see #5000!!!  :-)

  • Gee, I didn’t realize the Classic was run at Belmont last year.

  • horseowner

    Delaware – not always

  • Tom

    I think the trainer should be punished too!  He knew the horse was sore prior to the race and ran him so that he would be claimed.  This is really unfair to the public and the new owner of the horse.

  • Citation48

    Just warming up for Exchange Wagering.

  • joe

    Many horses make it and some of them do very well but who knows how many potentially good or even great horses are needlessly ruined each year because immature babies are being “medicated” and drilled for speed often starting before their 2nd birthday and are pushed to breeze 1/8 and 1/4 at warp speed that proves nothing?


  • Rachel

    Are you serious???

  • Rachel

    Spell check is the biggest reason there is a dearth (yes dearth) of good journalism…

  • voiceofreason

    There is no room for logic on this board! It’s true: yearling, 2 year old, broodmare, weanlings, you name it… are all HUGE losers, percentage wise. And though the *percentages* are far better if you buy a race-ready horse… there are many horses that do not fair well in the process. Mandate a SLOW DOWN in the breezes, and everyone wins.

  • Spexracing

    Lmao. I’m glad you got a minute long exam out of the state vet dh. I think the longest I have had them is for 15 seconds and that’s usually because I jog mine longer than the 6 yards they are used to and usually get screeched at for it. My horse is sound but even if he wasn’t between the bute and the laughable exam I’d venture to say he could pull it off. I don’t think the jock was afraid of the horse as much as he was the trainer. I looked at his stats and seems he gets most of his mounts and subsequently winners from Kobiskie. I hate that the trainer gets off scott free again, as I would dare any one with common sense to tell me that this horse dropping like that was an honest attempt to win. There are drops and then there are DROPS…

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