Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has won the Kentucky Derby two times (in 2005 with Giacomo and 2018 with Justify) and will try to win a third when he rides Taiba in this year’s Derby on May 7. Smith sat down with Ren Carothers to relive some of his greatest Derby memories and to look ahead to his chances in this year’s run for the roses.
If Taiba were to win the Kentucky Derby, he’d be doing in just his third career star and would become the first 3-year-old to accomplish that feat since Leonatus in 1883. Smith discussed the challenges of accomplishing the feat without the kind of foundation that other horses — who’ve had the benefit of running in more races — will have on the first Saturday in May. Despite that, Smith explained why he’s so optimistic coming off of Taiba’s freakish victory in the Santa Anita Derby.
We also hear what Smith thinks of the 20-horse starting gate at Churchill Downs compared with the old setup which involved a main gate and an auxiliary gate. His observations lead him to think that Taiba won’t mind the newer, narrower, gate at Churchill.
Smith, 55, also has the opportunity to become the oldest jockey to ever win the Kentucky Derby. Bill Shoemaker accomplished the feat at 54 when he won the Kentucky Derby in 1986 aboard Ferdinand.
Finally, Smith shared his secrets to success and longevity. Hear how his training routine has enabled him to ride at the top of the sport for over three decades.
For all of your Kentucky Derby information, including race previews, contender profiles and tips on winning when you play the Derby, visit americasbestracing.net.