If, as the saying goes, you're as young as you feel, how old is Mike Smith today?
“I'm feeling pretty good, so I'd say I'm about 35,” Smith said Thursday morning by telephone, undercutting what the calendar says by 17 years. Smith, a member of Thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame since 2003, was not booked on any mounts for his 52nd birthday and planned to keep things low key.
“I'm just sitting here drinking coffee and watching a little television,” Smith said. “I'm going to go to the gym, probably walk on the beach and have a quiet dinner this evening. Nothing too exciting.”
For 15 of the 17 years since Smith relocated from the East Coast, Del Mar has been his summer base. The place from which he's established connections that led to 18 of his record 25 Breeders' Cup victories to go with five Triple Crown triumphs. Accomplishments that earned him the nickname “Big Money Mike” for his ability to consistently get marquee horses like Skip Away, Azeri, Zenyatta and, this year, Arrogate and Songbird, into the winner's circle in races where the spotlights are shining brightest.
Equibase statistics this season show Smith with 46 wins from 146 mounts, for purse earnings of nearly $15 million, No. 3 in North America. An average earnings per start of $91,214.
“I need to get that (average per start) up above $100,000 where it was earlier, but it's been an incredible year thanks to the horses I get to ride and the people who put me on them,” Smith said. “I'm enjoying riding more this year than I think I ever have. Who wouldn't with the opportunities I have to ride these great horses? I'm blessed to be in the position I am, and I'm thankful for it.”
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