The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the prestigious Triple Crown series and almost always features a surprise or two. This year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Rich Strike is not making the trip to Baltimore but the Derby runner-up Epicenter will run as the obvious favorite in the Preakness. He’ll be opposed by Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath and several others. How the race unfold will depend — as always — on some of the decisions that’ll be made throughout the race by the jockeys. So, let’s take a closer look at all of the riders who’ll attempt to claim the spotlight at the Preakness Stakes.
Originally from: Venezuela
Previous rides in Preakness: 1
Best finish: Finished fourth in 2012 (Zetterholm)
His 2022 Preakness horse: Skippylongstocking
It has been a decade between starts in the Preakness Stakes for Junior Alvarado and this year’s Preakness falls the day after the jockey’s 36th birthday. Despite the limited opportunities in the Preakness, Alvarado has been extremely successful in the years since he rode his first Preakness in 2012. Alvarado has three times ranked in the top 10 in national earnings among jockeys and he has captured more than 85 graded stakes wins. He began his career in the U.S. in South Florida in 2007 before moving on to Chicago where he’d become a leading rider. He’s continued that success in recent years in both New York and again in Florida. He’ll ride Skippylongstocking in the Preakness for Florida-based trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. In the Wood Memorial Presented by Resorts World Casino in April, Skippylongstocking finished third behind Mo Donegal and fellow Preakness challenger Early Voting.
Originally from: Florida
Previous rides in Preakness: 1
Best finish: Won in 2019 (War of Will)
His 2022 Preakness horse: Happy Jack
Tyler Gaffalione is the only jockey in this year’s field who can boast an undefeated record in the Preakness Stakes. He made his Preakness debut in 2019 and won the race aboard War of Will. However, the odds will be against Gaffalione as he tries to make it 2-for-2 in the Preakness because this year he’ll be riding longshot Happy Jack. The Oxbow colt finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby earlier this month. In addition to his 2019 Preakness win, Gaffalione has more than 1,800 career victories and he was awarded the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice jockey in 2015. This year, he ranks fourth in the nation in wins and sixth by purse earnings through May 15.
Originally from: France
Previous rides in Preakness: 5
Best finish: Finished third in 2019 (Owendale)
His 2022 Preakness horse: Fenwick
As he inches closer to his 2,000th career win, Florent Geroux has remained as consistent as any jockey in America. Since 2016, he’s been in the top 10 in earnings every year but one. He has ridden multiple champions, including superstar filly Monomoy Girl and 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner. That duo is responsible for three of Geroux’s seven wins at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. He continues to search for his first Preakness victory. On Saturday, he’ll be on a horse named Fenwick who isn’t likely to get much consideration as a win candidate. It took Fenwick five starts to win his first race. He followed that up by finishing last of 11 horses in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes April 9.
Originally from: Louisiana
Previous rides in the Preakness: 3
Best finish: 4th in 2020 (Art Collector)
His 2022 Preakness horse: Creative Minister
He hasn’t had as many opportunities on the big stage as some of the other riders in this race but Brian Hernandez Jr. has made the most of his chances. The Louisiana native is perhaps best-known for his 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic win aboard Fort Larned. Prior to that, Hernandez won the 2004 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice jockey. In the years since, he’s racked up more than 2,300 career wins, including more than 60 graded stakes. He’ll ride a horse named Creative Minister, who was a winner at Churchill Downs on May 7. This will be the Creative Cause colt’s first time facing stakes competition and he’ll very likely go off as one of the longshots in the Preakness.
Originally from: Puerto Rico
Previous rides in Preakness: 3
Best finish: Second in 2021 (Midnight Bourbon)
His 2022 Preakness horse: Armagnac
For a moment during last year’s running of the race, it appeared that Irad Ortiz Jr. was about to win his first Preakness Stakes. He was aboard Midnight Bourbon when the horse finished second to a late-charging Rombauer. That represented one of the few misses in recent years for Ortiz who won three consecutive Eclipse Awards as outstanding jockey from 2018 to 2020. He currently leads all riders in wins and earnings in 2022 through May 15. At just 29 years old, Ortiz already has 14 wins at the Breeders’ Cup and a Belmont Stakes victory (Creator, 2016). If he’s going to add a Preakness win to his resume this year, Ortiz will have to do it aboard Armagnac. After being soundly defeated in the San Felipe Stakes and Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, Armagnac cruised to a powerful victory against lesser competition on May 8.
Originally from: Puerto Rico
Previous rides in Preakness: 4
Best finish: Fourth in 2018 (Good Magic)
His 2022 Preakness horse: Early Voting
Jose Ortiz recently secured his 2,500th career win, which is an absolutely remarkable number for a 28-year-old jockey. For eight straight years, he’s finished in the top 10 among North American riders by purse earnings; he topped that list in 2017, the year after he won the first of his five Breeders’ Cup wins to date. When it comes to the Preakness Stakes, Jose’s best finish in the race came in 2018. He was fourth that year with the Chad Brown-trained Good Magic. Ortiz and Brown will reunite at the Preakness again this year with Early Voting. In his most recent race, the Gun Runner colt finished second with Ortiz riding in the Wood Memorial Presented by Resorts World Casino.
Originally from: Dominican Republic
Previous rides in Preakness: 7
Best finish: Second in 2014 (Ride On Curlin), 2015 (Tale of Verve), and 2019 (Everfast)
His 2022 Preakness horse: Epicenter
Joel Rosario has won the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes (twice) and 15 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races. The only American classic missing from his 3,300-plus win resume is the Preakness Stakes. That’s not to say he hasn’t come close to capturing the second leg of the Triple Crown. Rosario has three times finished second in the Preakness and has only finished outside of the top four in two of his seven starts in the race. This year, he’ll be on the prohibitive favorite in Kentucky Derby runner-up Epicenter. Were it not for 80-1 shot Rich Strike getting up in the final strides of the Derby, Epicenter might’ve found himself the center of national attention. Either way, Rosario and Epicenter look imposing coming into the Preakness and will be tough to beat on Saturday.
Originally from: Panama
Previous rides in Preakness: 2
Best finish: Second in 2018 (Bravazo)
His 2022 Preakness horse: Secret Oath
Luis Saez turns 30 years old May 19 and his resume reads like that of a jockey who has been riding for a much longer period of time. He has finished in the top three in wins and purse earnings for jockeys nationally each of the past two years. In 2020, he won his first Breeders’ Cup race when he captured the TVG Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance aboard Essential Quality. Last year, he piloted Essential Quality to a victory in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, which was Saez’ first official win in a Triple Crown race (he crossed the finish line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby before his horse Maximum Security was disqualified). In total, Saez has won nearly 3,000 races including more than 150 victories in graded stakes. His most recent graded stakes score came in the Longines Kentucky Oaks earlier this month aboard Secret Oath. Saez and Secret Oath will take on the boys on Saturday as she attempts to become only the seventh filly in history to win the Preakness.
Originally from: Puerto Rico
Previous rides in Preakness: 11
Best finish: 2nd in 2011 (Animal Kingdom), 2013 (Itsmyluckyday), and 2020 (Authentic)
His 2022 Preakness horse: Simplification
He’s won the Kentucky Derby three times and the Belmont Stakes twice but Hall of Famer John Velazquez has yet to win the Preakness Stakes. He finished second in the race in 2020 while riding eventual Horse of the Year Authentic. Originally from Puerto Rico, Velazquez launched his riding career in 1990 and fairly quickly established himself as one of the top jockeys in the country. Some 6,400 wins later, he still gets top billing on major race days and could become one of the oldest jockeys to ever win the Preakness. This year, he’ll have a legitimate shot at it when he takes the mount on Simplification. The horse was ridden to a strong fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby by Jose Ortiz. The ride opened up to Velazquez on Simplification when Ortiz jumped aboard Early Voting.