Del Mar Jockey Preview

D.S. Williamson

July 15th, 2016

Del Mar is back!  The West Coast Saratoga Meet has returned. There's a lot riding on this year's Del Mar races. California Chrome, Firing Line, Dortmund and super mare Beholder all plan on racing at where the Turf Meets the Surf. The purses for many of the races are some of the biggest in the nation.

There are some jockeys who excel at Del Mar. See below for my quick list.


Rafael Bejarano -  Rafael Bejarano is the premier jockey on the West Coast. Rafa excels at Del Mar. From 100 starts at Bing's place in 2015, he racked up 20 wins, 18 places and 13 shows. His horses finished in the money over 50% of the time while Rafa's win percentage was at 20%. In 2016, he's been exceptional. Check out his understanding of pace when guiding Midnight Storm to an upset win over Tourist and heavily favored Heart to Heart in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile.   


Santiago Gonzalez - This could be the Del Mar Meet where Santiago Gonzalez becomes one of the elite. Last summer, Gonzalez had 81 mounts where the Turf Meets the Surf. The 32-year-old Venezuelan finally broke through at last year's Del Mar Meet. He won 18 races. He had 10 places and 9 shows from 81 mounts. His win percentage was higher than Rafa's at 22%. His in the money percentage was 46%. In this video, Gonzalez leads Prize Exhibit to a win in the Grade 2 Monrovia Stakes in 2016.   


Flavien Prat - Prat doesn't show up in the jockey standings at the 2015 Del Mar Meet. That's okay. His 2016 has been phenomenal. After his mounts earned $5,247,773 in 2015, Prat's mounts are already at $6,724,483 as of July 15, 2016. Winning the Humana Distaff with Taris on Kentucky Derby Day signaled how good Prat really is. He's already been named the jockey on Majestic Heat in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon for Richard Mandella. He's also been named the jockey on Flamboyant in the Grade 2 Eddie Read for trainer Paddy Gallagher.


Mike Smith - Hall of Fame rider Smith only had 30 mounts at the 2015 Del Mar Meet. It didn't matter. He won an incredible 9 races. He rode 2 second place finishers. He rode 4 third place finishers. Smith was in the money 50% of the time. He won the Eddie Read in 2015 aboard Gabriel Charles. This year, Smith rides Bolo for Carla Gaines in the Eddie Read.


Fernando Perez - I love Perez's aggressive style. His win percentage at Del Mar was only 15% in 2015. But he finished in the money 41% of the time. Check out how Perez brought home Lost Bus at 60 to 1 odds in the Santa Monica Stakes. What a ride by Perez who has a knack for being aggressively under control. Perez had 12 wins, 12 places and 8 shows from 85 Del Mar mounts last year. He doesn't get the best mounts but he seems to come through more often than not.  


Victor Espinoza - In 2015, Victor only had 43 mounts at Del Mar. It made sense since Espinoza was the regular rider for American Pharoah. He's also the regular rider for California Chrome. Chrome is pointing towards the San Diego Handicap and possibly the Pacific Classic, both at Del Mar, before the Breeders Cup and then the Pegasus World Cup in 2017. Espinoza still managed to win 7 races with 9 second place finishes and 6 shows last year from his 43 mounts at Del Mar. Victor's numbers at Del Mar could be exceptional since Chrome figures to run in at least 2 races at the meet.