Meet the Jockeys for the 2022 Belmont Stakes

From left to right: Jockeys Flavien Prat, Sonny Leon, and Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride leading contenders for the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets June 11 at Belmont Park. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Some of the best 3-year-old horses in the country are set to face off on Saturday, June 11, in the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets at Belmont Park. The $1.5 million, 1 ½-mile race called the “Test of the Champion” serves as the final leg of the Triple Crown and also regularly attracts the most accomplished jockeys in the country — each of them vying for victory in one of U.S. horse racing’s classic races.

Let’s take a closer look at the riders who’ll be competing in this year’s Belmont Stakes.

Eclipse Sportswire

Dylan Davis

Age: 27

Originally from: New York

Previous rides in the Belmont: 0

Best finish: N/A

His 2022 Belmont horse: Golden Glider

For a New York-native who has ridden almost exclusively in the state since launching his career in 2012, Davis is certainly aware of the magnitude of the moment as he prepares to ride in his first Belmont Stakes this Saturday. Davis is the son of retired jockey Robbie Davis and Dylan’s sisters, Jacqueline and Katie, also are jockeys. Dylan’s dad finished second in the 1988 Belmont Stakes and won more 3,300 career races. Dylan is keeping pace. He’s already won more than 1,000 races at just 27 years of age and won his first career Grade 1 race in 2021, taking the E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine aboard Mutamakina. He’ll come in a bit under everyone’s radar while riding Golden Glider in the Belmont Stakes. The horse recently finished second in the Peter Pan Stakes behind returning Belmont competitor We the People. Davis is the youngest jockey riding in this year’s Belmont Stakes.  

Adam Coglianese/NYRA

Manny Franco

Age: 28

Originally from: Puerto Rico

Previous rides in the Belmont: 2

Best finish: Won in 2020 (Tiz the Law)

His 2022 Belmont horse: Skippylongstocking

Manny Franco has made a steady rise to the upper echelon of jockeys on the NYRA circuit over the past several years. He attended jockey school in his native country before beginning his career at Camarero Racetrack in Canóvanas. In 2013, he moved to New York and in 2018 and 2019 he led the competitive NYRA colony in wins with a combined 456. He's also finished in the top ten nationally in earnings every year since 2016. Franco enjoyed success with his first Belmont Stakes mount in 2020, riding Tiz the Law to victory in the 152nd running that, in an unprecedented turn of events due to COVID-19, led off the Triple Crown series and was shortened to 1 1/8 miles. He’s aboard longshot Skippylongstocking for this year’s renewal; the colt enters off of a fifth-place finish in the Preakness Stakes.

2012 Breeders' Cup Classic (Eclipse Sportswire)

Brian Hernandez Jr.

Age: 36

Originally from: Louisiana

Previous rides in the Belmont Stakes: 0

Best finish: N/A

His 2022 Belmont horse: Creative Minister

Brian Hernandez Jr. will be making his first start in the Belmont Stakes but he’s no stranger to riding in important races. The Louisiana native is perhaps best-known for his 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic win aboard Fort Larned (pulling off an upset at odds of 9.40-1). Hernandez comes into this year’s Belmont Stakes off of his best placing in a Triple Crown race after finishing third aboard Creative Minister in the Preakness Stakes on May 21. He’ll be aboard the same horse in the Belmont, hoping to land Creative Minister in the winner’s circle this time around. Hernandez won the 2004 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice jockey. In the years since, he’s amassed more than 2,300 career wins, including more than 60 graded stakes.

Eclipse Sportswire

Sonny Leon

Age: 32

Originally from: Venezuela

Previous rides in the Belmont: 0

Best finish: N/A

His 2022 Belmont horse: Rich Strike

A late defection from the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve field (Ethereal Road) opened up an unlikely opportunity for Sonny Leon to ride on the biggest stage in the world of racing — and he didn’t disappoint. Leon pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Kentucky Derby history when he guided Rich Strike to victory at odds of 80.80-1. In the days leading up to (and following) his win in the $3-million race, Leon rode in races on smaller-circuit tracks with purses averaging about $10,000 per race — which made his Derby success along with Rich Strike all the more improbable. Originally from Venezuela, Leon launched his U.S. riding career in 2015 and has earned nearly 800 wins. Leon has been the leading rider at Mahoning Valley for the past three years. He performed so well last year that he ended 2021 ranked 11th in the nation by total victories. Leon and Rich Strike aren’t an unknown commodity anymore and there will be plenty of attention focused on them when they enter the starting gate for the Belmont Stakes.

Eclipse Sportswire

Irad Ortiz Jr. 

Age: 29

Originally from: Puerto Rico

Previous rides in the Belmont: 7

Best finish: Won in 2016 (Creator)

His 2022 Belmont horse: Mo Donegal

Irad Ortiz Jr. scored a surprise victory in the 2016 running of the Belmont Stakes aboard Creator at odds of 16.40-1. But Ortiz is usually on the favorite in big races since he’s widely regarded as the best rider in North America. He won three consecutive Eclipse Awards as outstanding jockey from 2018 to 2020, and he currently leads all riders in both wins and earnings in 2022 by a comfortable margin. At just 29 years old, Ortiz already has 14 wins in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. When it comes to riding in New York, Ortiz has compiled an astounding record which includes more than 20 riding titles, most recently winning the fall title at last year’s Belmont Park meet. He’s well positioned to add to his resume on Saturday when he rides one of the expected favorites in the Belmont Stakes. His mount, Mo Donegal, won the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by Resorts World Casino in April in New York before finishing a strong fifth in the Kentucky Derby.

Eclipse Sportswire

Jose Ortiz

Age: 28

Originally from: Puerto Rico

Previous rides in the Belmont: 7

Best finish: Won in 2017 (Tapwrit)

His 2022 Belmont horse: Nest

The younger brother of jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., Jose Ortiz comes into this year’s Belmont off a victory in the Preakness Stakes aboard Early Voting. Since that horse isn’t entered in the Belmont Stakes, Jose is slated to ride a horse that his brother had previously been aboard — the lone filly in this year’s Belmont Stakes, Nest. She figures to be well supported off of her second-place finish in the Longines Kentucky Oaks last month. Jose’s presence aboard Nest won’t hurt her chances either. He was a winner of the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey in 2017 when he led the nation in purse earnings with more than $27.3 million and won the Belmont Stakes aboard Tapwrit. Like his brother, Jose has spent his entire career based in New York where he’s won a dozen riding titles. He is also a five-time winner at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships with more than 2,500 overall victories to his credit.

Eclipse Sportswire

Flavien Prat

Age: 29

Originally from: France

Previous rides in the Belmont: 1

Best finish: Finished second in 2021 (Hot Rod Charlie)

His 2022 Belmont horse: We the People

Flavien Prat rode in his first Belmont Stakes last year and he nearly won the race aboard Hot Rod Charlie. That he performed so well in the race was no surprise given Prat’s ascent in the jockey ranks over the past few years. In 2019, Prat won the Kentucky Derby on Country House and last year he added a Preakness Stakes victory to his resume with Rombauer. The only race missing from his personal career Triple Crown would be the Belmont Stakes. He’ll try to make it happen on Saturday when he rides Peter Pan Stakes winner We the People in the Belmont Stakes. Prat grew up in France as the son of a horse trainer. Prat’s first full season in North America was 2015, when he finished second in the standings of the Del Mar summer meet. He has since won multiple riding titles in California and has scored three Breeders’ Cup victories. In two of the past three years, he’s finished in the top five in purse earnings for jockeys in North America. 

Eclipse Sportswire

Joel Rosario

Age: 37

Originally from: Dominican Republic

Previous rides in the Belmont: 10

Best finish: Won in 2019 (Sir Winston) and 2014 (Tonalist)

His 2022 Belmont Horse: Barber Road

Joel Rosario has made the most of his opportunities in the Belmont Stakes and has proven himself a reliable rider on the biggest days and on the biggest stages in racing. He won the Kentucky Derby in 2013 (Orb) and has collected 15 wins in Breeders’ Cup races. Rosario, who has been a leading New York-based jockey multiple times, won the Belmont Stakes in 2019 aboard long shot Sir Winston. It was a second Belmont Stakes triumph for Rosario who previously won the race in 2014 on Tonalist. He’ll go for a third on June 11 when he takes over the mount on Barber Road. He’ll be aboard the horse for the first time after Barber Road finished a rallying sixth in the Kentucky Derby.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!