Churchill Downs announced that jockeys who will be riding in the Kentucky Oaks or Kentucky Derby to be run September 4th and 5th will have to be at Churchill Downs by August 24th. This can possibly out a dent in the riding colonies at both Saratoga and Del Mar. Saratoga as of now is scheduled to run through September 7th, with Del Mar scheduled also through September 7th. Considering riders would have to go through a period of quarantine due to Covid-19 restrictions and safeguards riding in the Oaks or Derby is essentially abandoning your home track meet.
Angel Cordero promptly stated following the Churchill Downs announcement his rider, Manny Franco would do what is required and keep his mount on current Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law. I’d speculate most riders with live mounts in either race, and possibly even some of the supporting stakes will head to Louisville early. Oaks Derby weekend is a huge event in the Sport of Kings and most riders want to showcase their skills on the big stage while just about all of racing and more is watching. I think the Kentucky Derby is about more than the money and the connections. It is one of the few races riders are expected to go to the horse they think has the best chance even if they risk losing many other mounts from barns they ride for regularly or can offer more choice mounts. There is a reason Irvin S. Cobb once said,
“Until you go to Kentucky and with your own eyes behold the Derby, you ain’t never been nowheres and you ain’t seen nothin.”
Not only is riding in the Kentucky Derby a special moment for any jockey, it is also a race where a lot can happen. We all know the best horse doesn’t always win the Derby, if you have a decent mount, you just about have to take your shot.