In round two of our Derby for Dummies experience we want to introduce you to a few of the jockeys who will be riding in the big race on Derby Day. Some of these guys might look familiar to you because they've been here at the Spa, but just in case you are starting from square one let's meet a few of them, shall we?
Mike Smith will be riding Far Right come Derby Day. Smith was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2003, and has won the most Breeders' Cup races of any jockey. In 1998, Smith suffered major injuries in two separate spills, in March he broke his shoulder and then, in August, while leading the Saratoga meeting, he broke two vertebrae in his back, requiring him to wear a body cast for several months. But just six months after the fall he was back in racing form.
Javier Castellano will be atop Materiality on Saturday, and he began his riding career in 1996 at La Rinconada and Santa Rita racetracks in Venezuela. Since moving to the states in '97 Castellano had his first major wins In 2004, on Ghostzapper, and won several major races including the 2004 Breeders' Cup Classic, earning 2004 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year and other honors. Castellano received the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2013, finishing the year leading the nation's jockeys with purse earnings of over $26.2 million.
John Velazquez, riding Carpe Diem in the Derby, was admitted to the Horse Racing Hall of fame in 2012, and as of 2014, he is the all-time leading money-earning jockey in North America. He also set a Saratoga record with six wins in one card on September 3, 2001.
Kent Desormeaux will be riding Keen Ice, and is one of only four jockeys to have won three national titles in a row. In 1989, Desormeaux set the current record for most wins in a year with 598, and he scored his 5,000th career victory on July 27, 2008 by guiding Bella Attrice to victory in the 7th race right here at the Saratoga Race Course. Speaking of Saratoga, Ray Bryan, a local Saratogian you might see out and about at the galas is a syndicate member of Donegal Racing, which owns Keen Ice and he is down in Kentucky right now ready to cheer him on. We chatted with Ray about this year's Derby, who said "Just an amazing field of three year olds. One of the best in a long time! Can't wait to see the race! Dortmund, American Pharaoh look amazing! Keen Ice looks great and will come with a long run. Just have to see what happens Derby Day." We'll be cheering on Keen Ice come Derby Day!
Where are YOU going to be watching the big race on Saturday? The inaugural Kentucky Derby Party to benefit the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Bacon, Brews, and Brims will be the place to be come Derby Day. At this must attend Derby fete, party goers will be able to watch the race inside the actual Hall of Fame, Saratogabets is going to be on site to enroll people in their rewards program and help with on-line wagering, and free wi-fi will also be available for everyone. Click here to buy tickets for the event now, and tickets will also be sold at the door at $85 per ticket. See you race fans Saturday!