In what jockey Mike Smith described as the toughest decision of his career, he opted to ride Omaha Beach in the upcoming Kentucky Derby. This left the mount open on Roadster and Bob Baffert wasted little time before he named Florent Geroux to his improving colt.
Mike Smith won the Triple Crown last year aboard Bob Baffert’s Justify. he also has long standing ties with Rick Porter and his Fox Hill Farm. He rode champion Songbird for them and years earlier another champion filly Jostle.
In Justify’s Triple Crown run, Florent Geroux rode Restoring Hope for Bob Baffert in the Belmont Stakes against his stablemate. After the race and Justify’s success Mike Smith was captured on camera yelling “you’re the man” to someone on the backstretch. It was thought by many to be Florent Geroux he was speaking to who rode Restoring Hope in a somewhat out of the ordinary fashion in the race. Restoring Hope has since been transferred to the barn of Jason Servis. It is an interesting backstory to this year’s Run for the Roses.
History teaches us that riders do not always make the best handicappers. Bill Shoemaker chose Hill Rise over Northern Dancer in the Kentucky Derby. John Velazquez chose Verrazano over Orb. Perhaps the late and great Eddie Arcaro said it best when asked what he would have liked to do for a living had he not been a jockey. He thought for a moment and said:
“I would like to be the bookie in the jock’s room.”