The immense success horse racing has maintained over the decades is quite astonishing. It truly is still a household sports activity, and a big part of the allure is obviously the jockeys.
Taking the step to becoming a jockey requires mastery, devotion, and bravery. The most recognizable jockeys possess all those traits. That said, pinpointing the most successful jockeys of all time can be a challenge. It’s not just the complex nature of the sport that causes that, but also the various aspects that play a role in creating that success. That's why it’s important to always keep an eye on historical data when deciding on online sports betting options for your next race, to stay ahead of the pack! Nevertheless, the jockeys that have warranted the title of most successful combine all the aspects mentioned and have made a name for themselves in the robust world of horse racing.
Here are three all American legends who took the world of horse racing by surprise:
1. Bill Shoemaker (1931 - 2003)
Bill Shoemaker was born prematurely on August 19, 1931, in Fabens, Texas. His parents thought he wasn't going to survive due to his small size, but little did they know the odds would ultimately play in his favor. His small size gave him a great advantage as a jockey, which helped him climb up the ranks in the world of horse racing. Shoemaker's career took a quick head start. He started getting recognition when he was just a teenager.
In a small timeframe, about a year in his professional career, he became an American champion jockey. During his astonishing career, Shoemaker crossed a hefty number of milestones. He crushed the Kentucky Derby four times, the Preakness Stakes twice, and the Belmont Stakes five times. Shoemaker won a whopping 8,883 races in the span of his career. And that's a peak he held for many years. Due to his remarkable career, Shoemaker was inaugurated into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1958.
2. Mike Smith (1965 - present)
Mike Smith blessed us with his presence on Aug. 10, 1965, in Dexter, N.M. Smith spent most of his childhood at his grandparents’ farm. That gave him the kick start he needed to pursue his successful career as a jockey. He started breaking horses at the very young age of 8, and at 11 he started competing in races.
By the age of 16, Smith received his jockey license and quickly dropped out of high school in an attempt to establish his success on the Midwestern racing circuit. Smith was a colossal record-breaker. Through October 2021, he has won 26 Breeders’ Cup races – a record – and the Kentucky Derby twice. Smith has won 5,624 races as of Oct. 10, and he made it to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2003.
3. Pat Day (1953 - present)
Born Oct. 13, 1953, in Brush, Colo., the now-retired jockey kicked off his career as a wrestler, but he managed to bless the horse racing world with his unique skill set instead. Day learned how to ride from his father and participated in rodeo events before commencing his career as a jockey.
In his astounding career he tallied 8,803 wins, he won the Eclipse Award as Outstanding Jockey four times, and was enlisted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1991. Day ranks fourth all-time among jockeys in total earnings. In 2006, a statue of Day celebrating his win in the 1992 Kentucky Derby was uncovered at Churchill Downs, and In 2016 Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin nominated Day to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Each jockey mentioned had a huge impact on the world of horse racing and elevated the game to the next level. The degree of expertise those legends have shared with us elevated the standards of the sport. They certainly gave us massive shoes to fill.