Jockeys are often the unsung heroes of horse racing. Even though they are an important factor in the sport, they somehow don’t get enough credit since the horses claim the spotlight.
After all, they are in charge of pushing the horses to their limits and squeezing every bit of performance they have on the race day. Additionally, they sacrifice a lot!
Horse racing is a dangerous sport, and jockeys willingly are risking their lives on a day-to-day basis. On top of that, they have to follow a strict diet and be fit all the time.
So, the next time you are analyzing an important race like the Breeders’ Cup on TwinSpires, make sure to give more credit to jockeys.
Their job is really tough!
This inspired us to take a look at the life that some of the most successful jockeys have. So, get your cap on, as we give credit to the people that make horse racing an exciting sport.
Best Jockeys of All Time
Russell Baze stands as a trailblazer in the racing universe, boasting the highest number of wins in jockey history with a staggering 12,844 triumphs accredited to his legacy. He proudly holds the title of United States Champion Jockey ten times over.
Born on August 7, 1958, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Baze was nurtured in a family submerged in horse racing traditions, his father being a seasoned jockey and trainer. Initiating his illustrious career as a jockey at the tender age of 16, Baze swiftly ascended the pinnacles of Thoroughbred racing.
Throughout his remarkable career, victories in some of America’s most prestigious horse races have adorned his journey. His laurels include accolades like the All-American Stakes, San Carlos Handicap, California Derby, and Oak Tree Invitational Stakes, among a multitude of others. In 1999, Baze’s name was eternally engraved in the United States Racing Hall of Fame.
John R. Velazquez
In the realm of prize money, no jockey orbits as high as John Velazquez, with his wallet heavy with over $460,000,000 in career earnings that continue to surge. He possesses more than 6,500 triumphant rides beneath his belt, with the illustrious USA Triple Crown still shimmering on his horizon.
With dual victories in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, the sole jewel missing from his crown is the Preakness Stakes. Velazquez, a native of Puerto Rico, has reigned supreme in the American prize money leaderboard on two notable occasions, demonstrating unwavering consistency.
Bill Shoemaker might perpetually stand as an unassailable monument in the jockey universe. His hands have cradled the reins of 11 US Triple Crown champions, albeit never clinching all three esteemed titles in a singular magical season.
Shoemaker’s legendary prowess places him third in the historical roster of victorious American Flat jockeys, maintaining an extraordinary strike rate above 21 percent.
One in every five thoroughbreds entrusted to him gloriously galloped to victory. He eclipsed the earnings leaderboard a decade’s worth of times throughout his extraordinary saddle sojourn, rightly occupying a hallowed space in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. His eventual shift from jockey to racehorse trainer magnified his earnings to a triumphant treble.
Lester Piggott, a legend who echoes across international racing corridors, has championed 4,493 triumphant races. Crowned as the British Flat Racing Champion Jockey an astonishing 11 times, Piggott’s life tale is woven into racing’s rich tapestry.
Born into a lineage of thoroughbred aficionados on November 5, 1935, in Wantage, England, his young years were marinated in racing excellence.
His pathway to legendary accolades was adorned with monumental victories such as the Epsom Derby, Epsom Oaks, Ascot Gold Cup, 2000 Guineas, and the 1000 Guineas, further glorified by triumphs in races like the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Irish Derby.
Embarking on life’s race in 1941 in New Brunswick, Canada, Ron Turcotte was cradled in a world where horses breathed life into daily existence. Among 14 siblings, his life was interwoven with horses and the labors they heralded.
He might not have the racing success as other jockeys we mentioned, but he has something in his bio that no other jockey has.
Ron Turcotte was the man who rode the Secretariat, the best horse that ever lived.
Secretariat’s illustrious legacy as the quintessential racehorse seems forever intertwined with Turcotte’s guided mastery.
These are some of the most successful jockeys of all time, and we all have to give credit where credit is due and appreciate their sacrifice.