Meet the 2023 Preakness Stakes Jockeys

Preakness Stakes jockeys Pimlico Triple Crown Irad Ortiz Blazing Sevens Javier Castellano Mage Jaime Rodriguez Coffeewithchris Luis Saez First Mission John Velazquez National Treasure Feargal Lynch Chase the Chaos Sheldon Russell Perform Red Route One Joe
Prominent jockeys Javier Castellano, Irad Ortiz Jr., and John Velazquez (left to right) all have mounts in the 148th Preakness Stakes May 20 at Pimlico. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the prestigious Triple Crown series and winning the race is high on the wish list of just about every jockey. This year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Mage will be ridden by Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano in the Preakness. There are several other Hall of Fame riders in this year’s Preakness field, as well several who’ll be making their first start in the race. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Eclipse Sportswire

Javier Castellano

Age: 45

Originally from: Venezuela

Previous rides in Preakness: 9

Best finish: Won in 2006 (Bernardini) and 2017 (Cloud Computing)

His 2023 Preakness horse: Mage

Just as he started to reach a point in his career when perhaps some might have questioned whether Javier Castellano was still a prime-time rider, he reminded people at the Kentucky Derby that he’s still got plenty left in the tank. Castellano rode a flawless race aboard Mage to capture his first career Derby win. With more than 5,600 career victories, Castellano is already established as one of the best jockeys in the history of racing. In 2017, the native of Venezuela he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame. That honor came on the heels of four consecutive Eclipse Awards for being the nation’s top jockey from 2013 to 2016. Now, Castellano returns to Maryland for his 10th Preakness ride and he’ll be aiming for his third career win in the race. There’s little doubt that Mage will go off as the favorite when the gates open on Saturday at Pimlico.

Eclipse Sportswire

Feargal Lynch

Age: 45

Originally from: Ireland

Previous rides in Preakness: 0

Best finish: N/A

His 2023 Preakness horse: Perform

Feargal Lynch has ridden horses around the world but he’s spent much of the past decade in Maryland, home of the Preakness. Originally from Northern Ireland, Lynch was a sensation when he started his career and was a champion apprentice rider in England. After a few visits to the U.S. earlier in his career, Lynch made the move permanently in 2016. He ended up ranking fifth with 96 wins in his first full year riding on the Maryland circuit. He’s also won two riding titles at Pimlico, if you’re interested in a jockey who knows how to ride the track on which the Preakness Stakes is contested. Lynch has won several high-profile graded stakes races including the Ricoh Woodbine Mile and, more recently, the Ruffian Stakes. This will be his first time riding in the Preakness and he’ll be aboard a Good Magic colt named Perform. They earned their spot in the starting gate by posting an upset in the Federico Tesio Stakes last month at odds of 10-1.

Eclipse Sportswire

Irad Ortiz Jr.

Age: 30

Originally from: Puerto Rico

Previous rides in Preakness: 4

Best finish: Second in 2021 (Midnight Bourbon)

His 2023 Preakness horse: Blazing Sevens

Irad Ortiz Jr. has won the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets twice but he’s been blanked for his career in the first two stops on the Triple Crown trail. When talking about most jockeys, the absence of a Derby or Preakness win on his or her résumé wouldn’t raise eyebrows. But Ortiz is different – he’s statistically the best all-around jockey in America, and he has been for a while. He has won the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top rider four times and he’s well on his way to another Eclipse this year. He’s the current leader nationally in purse earnings for 2023 (more than $13.3 million already) and in wins. His three wins at the 2022 Breeders’ Cup gave Ortiz a total of 17 victories for his career at the World Championships. Much of his success has come riding for trainer Chad Brown, for whom he’ll ride Blazing Sevens in the Preakness. Despite being eligible to run in the Kentucky Derby, Blazing Sevens skipped the race. His most recent race was a third-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in early April, so he comes into the Preakness a bit more rested than some of his main competition.

Jim Duley/Maryland Jockey Club

Jaime Rodriguez

Age: 32

Originally from: Puerto Rico

Previous rides in Preakness: 0

Best finish: N/A

His 2023 Preakness horse: Coffeewithchris

Although he’s been in the saddle as a professional jockey in North America since 2010, Jaime Rodriguez is just starting to hit his best stride. He’s seen his win totals and earnings skyrocket over the past two years. In 2022, he finished seventh in the nation in victories with 243. This past March, he tied a record at Laurel Park with an astounding seven wins on a single race card. Originally from Puerto Rico, Rodriguez launched his career on the New York circuit riding at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and ultimately Finger Lakes. The past couple of years he has won riding titles at Delaware Park and this year won the winter riding title at Laurel. As he closes in on 2,000 career wins, Rodriguez is slated to ride Coffeewithchris in the Preakness – clearly the most significant mount of Rodriguez’ career to date. Coffeewithchris is a Maryland-bred running in Maryland’s biggest race. He’ll no doubt be a longshot on Saturday coming in off of a fifth-place finish in the Federico Tesio Stakes.

Joel Rosario Preakness Red Route One Oaklawn Park
Eclipse Sportswire

Joel Rosario

Age: 38

Originally from: Dominican Republic

Previous rides in Preakness: 8

Best finish: Second in 2014 (Ride On Curlin), 2015 (Tale of Verve), 2019 (Everfast), and 2022 (Epicenter)

His 2023 Preakness horse: Red Route One

Joel Rosario has won the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes (twice), and 15 races at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The only American classic missing from his 3,450-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 four times finished second in the Preakness, including last year when he was aboard runner-up Epicenter, and has only finished outside of the top four in two of his eight starts in the race. This year, Rosario returns to Pimlico with the ride on Red Route One. The Gun Runner colt will be making his 10th career start in the Preakness. He has only won twice but might’ve run his best race in his most recent start when he took the Bath House Row Stakes April 22 at Oaklawn Park.​

Jerry Dzierwinski/Maryland Jockey Club

Sheldon Russell 

Age: 36

Originally from: Louisiana

Previous rides in Preakness: 2

Best finish: Sixth in 2020 (Excession)

His 2023 Preakness horse: Chase the Chaos

A winner of more than 1,500 races, Sheldon Russell has been a mainstay on the Maryland circuit for the past 16 years. He’s married to leading Maryland trainer Brittany Russell and he comes from a racing family, as well. His father, Dean, rode in England, South Africa, and Germany. Although Russell was born in Louisiana, he was raised in Newmarket, England. Russell enjoyed one of his best years in 2011 when he won a career-best 195 races and rode in his first Preakness Stakes. In the years since, he's only had one other opportunity to ride in the Preakness Stakes. This Saturday will mark a third, as he's slated to ride Chase the Chaos. The Astern gelding earned an automatic berth in the second leg of the Triple Crown by winning the El Camino Real Derby in February. He’s finished seventh and eighth in two starts since then. 

Eclipse Sportswire

Luis Saez

Age: 30

Originally from: Panama

Previous rides in Preakness: 3

Best finish: Second in 2018 (Bravazo)

His 2023 Preakness horse: First Mission (NOTE: First Mission was scratched from the Preakness May 19.)

It would be hard to imagine a better birthday gift for Luis Saez than a Preakness victory. Saez turns 31 years old on Friday, the eve of the 148th Preakness Stakes. At an age that’s still relatively young for a jockey, his résumé consisting of more than 3,250 victories already reads like that of a future Hall of Famer. He has ranked in the top four in wins for jockeys nationally each of the past four years. In 2020, he won his first Breeders’ Cup race when he captured the TVG Juvenile Presented by TAA aboard Essential Quality — the same horse with whom he won the Belmont Stakes in 2021. On Saturday, Saez will be riding one of the more interesting “new shooters” who didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. His mount is First Mission, a lightly-raced colt trained by Brad Cox, who won the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes in mid-April.

Eclipse Sportswire

John Velazquez

Age: 51

Originally from: Puerto Rico

Previous rides in Preakness: 12

Best finish: 2nd in 2011 (Animal Kingdom), 2013 (Itsmyluckyday), and 2020 (Authentic)

His 2023 Preakness horse: National Treasure

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 has finished second three times in the race, most recently in 2020 while riding eventual Horse of the Year Authentic. Originally from Puerto Rico, Velazquez launched his North American riding career in 1990 and fairly quickly established himself as one of the top jockeys in the U.S. Some 6,500 -plus wins later, he still gets top billing on major race days and could become one of the oldest jockeys to ever win the Preakness. Velazquez’ mount on Saturday will be National Treasure, a colt who has fallen a bit short of expectations thus far this year. After winning on debut last September with Velazquez aboard, National Treasure hasn’t won in four starts since. Most recently, he finished fourth in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby in April.

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