Switching Jockeys

October 8, 2019

JJ Graci weighs in on switching jockeys.

I received a very interesting e-mail about changing riders when big name jockeys are in town for a major stake race. 

I’ve been and still am an old school trainer… dance with the girl you went to the dance with. Meaning keep your steady rider on your horse, he or she already knows your horse. I am not saying a top jockey won’t get the job done for you. 

There are some things you want to ask yourself before you make a change of rider. You’re letting your regular rider off and chances are he might pick up another mount. Chances are they will stick with that horse. So now you are searching for another rider, remember the out of town jockey will be back at their home track. 

I understand owners see these fancy riders coming into town and think they would make the difference of you winning. I am not saying they’re completely wrong, they just should think down the road a bit. The big rider is gone..now you are going to try and get your regular jockey who might now be taken. It’s a fine line I never liked to tip toe over… not that I haven’t. 

Let’s go a step further. Why do jockeys accept outside mounts the day of Big Races? Generally, if a jockey has not ridden at that track before they like to get a feel for how the track surface is playing. Most of the time out of town jockeys are not going to ride unless the horse has  really good chance to win. You ask yourself why… it’s easy, they are not going to take a chance of something happening and they can’t ride the horse they came to ride. That’s why jockeys have agents to make that decision. Some riders don’t want to pick up mounts for that very reason.  I can go on and on but it’s a decision you have to make, good or bad. More times than not you are better off leaving your steady rider on. 

Generally trainers stick with jockeys they get LUCKY with… if it’s not broke don’t fix it. Bob Baffert really shocked me talking Mike Smith off of Mckinzie because he got beat in the Awesome Again at Santa Anita. Far from me to question Bob Baffert, but I can only wonder. Being a trainer for 50 plus years… you just don’t do that, as lucky as they are together.
Here’s the question, who is he going to replace him with? They don’t call him Money Mike for nothing… he wins most of the Major Races. Stay tuned… the Breeders’ Cup is a month away. I Hope I answered your question.

See you at the races! 

Contributing Authors

JJ Graci

RIP JJ was born in Philadelphia, Pa.  and attended Villanova University. He has vast experience in horse racing and broadcasting. JJ has been a fixture...

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