Meet the 2020 Preakness Stakes Jockeys

From left to right: Florent Geroux, Brian Hernandez Jr., and John Velazquez are among the jockeys scheduled to compete in the 2020 Preakness Stakes. (Eclipse Sportswire)

By the time the horses enter the starting gate for the 145thPreakness Stakes Oct. 3, most racing fans will be keenly familiar with the field of racehorses for the 1 3/16-mile Triple Crown race at Pimlico Race Course. Often, the jockeys are a different story.

Many times, at the conclusion of a Triple Crown race, we see a surge in traffic from horse racing fans searching for information on the winning rider, so we wanted to make sure fans know who the talented, fearless riders are who will be piloting the 1,000-plus pound Thoughbreds in this year’s Preakness Stakes.

Read on for a list of jockeys (in alphabetical order) scheduled to have a mount in the 2020 Preakness:

Robby Albarado (Eclipse Sportswire)

Robby Albarado

Age: 47

Originally from: Louisiana

Previous rides in Preakness: 9

Best finish: Won in 2007 (Curlin)

His 2020 Preakness horse: Swiss Skydiver

Coming from a fertile breeding ground for jockeys – Louisiana – Robby Albarado became a leading jockey on the Midwest circuit during the 1990s and emerged nationally in the 2000s, riding such notable horses as Mineshaft (Horse of the Year in 2003) and Court Vision. He was the regular rider for 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin for trainer Steve Asmussen, and won the 2007 Preakness aboard that eventual Hall of Famer. Albarado has more than 5,200 races, including three Breeders’ Cup races, and his mounts have earned nearly $220 million through Sept. 28. This will be his first time riding top-class 3-year-old filly Swiss Skydiver, who is in the running for an Eclipse Award.

Bravo (Eclipse Sportswire)

Joe Bravo

Age: 49

Originally from: New Jersey

Previous rides in Preakness: 4

Best finish: Fifth in 2012 (Teeth of the Dog)

His 2020 Preakness horse: Pneumatic

A third-generation jockey, “Jersey Joe” has been a dominant rider in his home state for 20 years. He has been the leading rider at Monmouth Park more than a dozen times. At the top of his list of accomplishments and more than 5,400 career wins was his victory last year in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff aboard Blue Prize. His best finish in a Triple Crown race came six years ago when he finished third on Danza in the 2014 Kentucky Derby. Bravo should have a strong chance to land a placing in this year’s Preakness aboard Pneumatic, a three-time winner who was guided to victory in his most recent start, the Pegasus Stakes, by Bravo.

Geroux (Eclipse Sportswire)

Florent Geroux

Age: 33

Originally from: France

Previous rides in Preakness: 4

Best finish: Third in 2019 (Owendale)

His 2020 Preakness horse: Thousand Words

The French-born Geroux has emerged as one of the top riders in the United States and has ridden multiple champion runners including superstar filly Monomoy Girl and 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner. Geroux has more than 1,600 career wins, highlighted by five Breeders’ Cup wins, including the 2017 Classic with Gun Runner, and a victory in the 2018 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes. He enjoyed his best finish in a Preakness race last year when he was third aboard Owendale. This year, he’ll ride two-time graded stakes winner Thousand Words coming off a win in the Shared Belief Stakes for trainer Bob Baffert. Thousand Words was scratched from the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on Sept. 4 when he became unruly in the paddock.

Hernandez (Coady Photography)

Brian Hernandez Jr.

Age: 34

Originally from: Louisiana

Previous rides in Preakness: 2

Best finish: Sixth in 2013 (Departed)

His 2020 Preakness horseArt Collector

The Eclipse Award winner for top apprentice jockey in 2004, Hernandez has been a leading rider across Louisiana and Kentucky in recent years. In 2012, he captured the Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Fort Larned and he’s added to his resume since with more than 50 career graded stakes victories to go along with more than 2,000 career wins to date. This will only be his third try in the Preakness but he’ll be riding one of the most highly-regarded horses in the field, Art Collector. A mid-week scratch Kentucky Derby week, Art Collector has won four races in a row including the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and Runhappy Ellis Park Derby.

Horacio Karamanos (Eclipse Sportswire)

Horacio Karamanos

Age: 47

Originally from: Argentina

Previous rides in Preakness: None

Best finish: N/A

His 2020 Preakness horse: Ny Traffic

Horacio Karamanos was a leading jockey in his home country of Argentina for several years before moving to the U.S. shortly after the turn of the century. He began his racing career in Florida but soon settled into the Mid-Atlantic circuit and built a successful career at Laurel Park, Pimlico, and Colonial Downs, where he won six straight riding titles and took the Virginia Derby in 2007 aboard Red Giant. Karamanos led the recently-completed Laurel Park meet in wins with 42 and finished second in earnings to fellow Preakness jockey Jevian Toledo. He will ride Ny Traffic for the first time in the Preakness and make his debut in the classic. Ny Traffic will look to rebound from a disappointing Kentucky Derby finish and get back to the form that saw him hit the board in four consecutive Derby preps during the spring and summer.

Lopez (Eclipse Sportswire)

Paco Lopez

Age: 34

Originally from: Mexico

Previous rides in Preakness: 0

Best finish: NA

His 2020 Preakness horse: Max Player

Although he’s consistently been one of the top riders in the region, Paco Lopez will be making his first start in the Preakness Stakes this year. Lopez won the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice jockey in 2008. In the years since, he’s found the winner’s circle more than 2,800 times and has consistently ranked near the top of the jockey standings at Monmouth Park. His career highlight to date was winning the Twinspires Breeders' Cup Sprint in 2018 aboard Roy H. He’ll be riding fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Max Player in this year’s Preakness. Known for riding aggressively out of the gate, Lopez was named by trainer Steve Asmussen to ride the traditionally slow-starting Max Player and perhaps keep him closer than usual to the early pace in the Preakness.

McCarthy (Eclipse Sportswire)

Trevor McCarthy

Age: 26

Originally from: Delaware

Previous rides in Preakness: 1

Best finish: Eighth in 2015 (Bodhisattva)

His 2020 Preakness horse: Liveyourbeastlife

Three times in the past six years, Trevor McCarthy has ranked in the top 10 in wins among jockeys nationally. Like fellow local rider Sheldon Russell, McCarthy was born into racing with his father Michael McCarthy winning 2,907 races during his career as a jockey. Still in his mid-20’s, the younger McCarthy is more than halfway to his father’s win total and Trevor has 18 graded stakes on his resume as well. However, this year will mark just his second opportunity to ride in the Preakness. McCarthy will be aboard Liveyourbeastlife, a horse who followed up a strong allowance win at Saratoga in August with a nice second-place finish in the Jim Dandy Stakes last month.

Russell (Coady Photography)

Sheldon Russell

Age: 33

Originally from: Louisiana

Previous rides in Preakness: 1

Best finish: Tenth in 2011 (Concealed Identity)

His 2020 Preakness horse: Excession

A winner of more than 1,300 races, Sheldon Russell has been a mainstay on the Maryland circuit for the past 13 years. He followed in his father's footsteps in becoming a jockey. His father, Dean, rode in England, South Africa, and Germany. Russell was born in Louisiana but raised in Newmarket, England. After going to jockey school there and earning his first win in the U.K., he moved to the U.S. under the tutelage of famed trainer Michael Dickinson at Tapeta Farm in Maryland. Russell enjoyed one of his best years in 2011 when he won 195 races and rode in his first Preakness Stakes. Nearly a decade later, he’ll be making his second Preakness start as he is slated to ride Excession, one of three entries for trainer Steve Asmussen. In his most recent start in March, Excession finished second at odds of 82.60-1 in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes.

Gabriel Saez (Eclipse Sportswire)

Gabriel Saez

Age: 32

Originally from: Panama

Previous rides in Preakness: 1

Best finish: Tenth in 2009 (Friesan Fire)

His 2020 Preakness horse: Mr. Big News

It has been more than a decade since Gabriel Saez came to Pimlico to ride a horse in the Preakness, but the native of Panama City, Panama, enters the 2020 edition with the confidence of finishing third aboard his charge Mr. Big News in the Kentucky Derby last month. Saez graduated from the Laffit Pincay Jr. academy in Panama, where he began riding before moving to the U.S. in the late 2000s. He’s won more than 30 graded stakes in the years since. Saez is the regular rider of By My Standards – one of the top horses in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic rankings – who is owned by Allied Racing Stable and trained by Bret Calhoun. That same owner-trainer team is behind Mr. Big News.

Jevian Toledo (Coady Photography)

Jevian Toledo

Age: 26

Originally from: Puerto Rico

Previous rides in Preakness: 1

Best finish: Ninth in 2018 (Awesome Speed)

His 2020 Preakness horse: Jesus’ Team

Puerto Rico native Jevian Toledo is a perennial leading rider on the Maryland circuit, having won Laurel Park’s jockey title six times. He began his career in his native Puerto Rico before moving to the U.S., and he won his 1,000th career race this summer. Toledo saw his business dip in 2018 and into 2019 due to injury but is back healthy this year and led the recently-completed Laurel Park meeting by earnings with more than $1.5 million. He will be riding Jesus’ Team for the first time in the Preakness; the colt enters the classic off of a third-place finish in the Jim Dandy Stakes and was supplemented to the Preakness by his owners.

Velazquez (Eclipse Sportswire)

John Velazquez

Age: 48

Originally from: Puerto Rico

Previous rides in Preakness: 9

Best finish: 2nd in 2013 (Itsmyluckyday) and in 2011 (Animal Kingdom)

His 2020 Preakness horse: Authentic

Newly-minted three-time winning Kentucky Derby jockey John Velazquez is still in search of an elusive Preakness Stakes victory. Velazquez guided Authentic to a front-running score in last month’s Derby after clearing from the widest post draw in the field. The will try to repeat the feat in the Preakness but could have more company up-front in the likes of probable second choice Art Collector, who didn’t run in the Derby. After coming to the mainland U.S. from Puerto Rico in 1990, Velazquez ascended to the top of the jockey ranks and won the Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey in both 2004 and 2005 prior to be inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2012. He has maintained his status as an elite rider and, in addition to his three Kentucky Derby victories, he has a pair of Belmont Stakes triumphs included among his 6,200-plus career wins.

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