‘Pretty Amazing’: Mike Smith Surpasses Jerry Bailey As All-Time Grade 1 Stakes-Winning Jockey

by | 12.29.2019 | 4:52pm
Omaha Beach and jockey Mike Smith win the Grade I $300,000 Runhappy Malibu Stakes Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, CA©Benoit Photo

Mike Smith, still vanquishing Father Time at the age of 54, won four stakes races on Saturday at Santa Anita Park. Three of them were Grade I's, setting a record for career Grade I successes at 217, one more than fellow Hall of Fame member Jerry Bailey.

“I think yesterday epitomized what Mike is all about,” said trainer John Shirreffs, who gave Smith a leg up on Hard Not to Love for her victory in the Grade I La Brea Stakes. “He's about the horse, and he's always been about the horse.

“It's the horse first; everything else is secondary. That's what I love about Mike.”

It was Smith's G1 Malibu win with Omaha Beach that officially broke Bailey's record.

“It's just amazing, and this horse speaks for everything,” Smith said. “He's just beautiful, so fun to be around, so fun to ride, and so fun to train. It just shows how great this horse really is. I'm so happy and so blessed to be a part of it. To surpass Jerry (Bailey) on Omaha Beach even makes it that much more special.

“It's 217? Wow. 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.

“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.

“It's been an amazing career looking back on it. It's too bad we don't look back on things every day in situations like this to appreciate what you've been able to accomplish. Passing Jerry Bailey at anything is pretty amazing.”

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