Mike Smith was born in Roswell, New Mexico, August 10, 1965. Smith began riding races in New Mexico at age 11. Shortly after launching his licensed career in 1982 at age 16, he won his first race with Forever Man at Santa Fe in New Mexico.
Suffered major injuries in two separate spills in 1998. In March he was out for two months with a broken shoulder, and a spill in August resulted in a broken back; Smith wore a body cast for months, but made it back to riding during the 1999 Gulfstream meet.
Smith moved his tack to California in 2001 after spending the bulk of his career in New York, where he had been located since 1989.
Some of the major awards Smith has won include: inducted into Racings Hall of Fame in 2003, Eclipse Award winner as outstanding jockey in 1993 and 1994, presented with the 2000 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, was named recipient of the Big Sport of Turfdom Award for 2010 from the Turf Publicists of America. The year before, Smith was a part of "Team Zenyatta," accorded the honor for 2009. Included in the 2009 award were owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs and his wife, Dottie. The annual honor is bestowed upon a person or group of people who enhance the coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with media and Thoroughbred racing publicists.
In 2005, Smith rode Giacomo to an upset victory in the Kentucky Derby, resulting in a $102.60 payoff on a $2 bet. They went on to finish third in the Preakness and seventh in the Belmont.
Mike Smith will always be remembered as the jockey of Zenyatta, the 2010 Horse of the Year. Smith rode the superstar mare in 17 of her 20 races. Zenyatta and Smith were victorious in 16 of those 17 races, with their only loss being a second place finish in the 2010 Breeders Cup Classic, Zenyatta's last race.
Smith was in the irons for the 2013 Run for the Roses and Belmont Stakes aboard Palace Malice, a colt in the string of runners training with Todd Pletcher. The pair took home the Black-Eyed Susans of the Belmont Stakes after skipping the Preakness. Smith ended his year by having major success at the Breeders' Cup, winning two of the races. That year also included a win in the Kentucky Oaks on Princess of Sylmar, and the Santa Anita Handicap on Game On Dude. His overall Grade 1 total for 2013 was 15 races won.
In 2014, Smith was the regular rider on Shared Belief, who won four graded stakes races with Smith aboard. Smith won seven Grade 1 races on the year, including a victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Judy the Beauty. The next year, the jockey rode Songbird to a win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.