Opening day at Santa Anita usually is a proving ground for the past and sometimes gives us a glimpse of the future. The December 28, 2019 edition provided a confirmation for what many already knew in regards to one of the veterans of the game.
Jockey Mike Smith has long been considered one of the best riders in the sport. Since beginning his career at the tender age of 16 back in 1982, this Roswell, New Mexico native has been out of this world. Winning races all across the country and even around the globe, his dedication to excellence still makes him one of the best some 4 decades later.
If there were any doubts about the abilities of Mike Smith, they were answered in the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains at the Great Race Place. His victory aboard Omaha Beach in the Malibu Stakes capped a four-win day and placed him above Jerry Bailey in all-time grade 1 win category (217). The grade 1 races are usually worth the most in purse money and also normally have the best horses running in them. Thusly, that is how Smith has earned his moniker “Big Money Mike”.
To complete the resume with more numbers, Mike Smith has won the Triple Crown (Justify 2018), has more Breeders’Cup victories than any rider (26), and boasts over 5,400 career trips to the winner’s circle. Like a fine wine, Smith gets better with age.
So if Mike Smith ever decides to hang it up, he will go out as the best big race rider of all-time. We can say that because he has the numbers to prove it…and numbers don’t lie.