I Like Betting on Millionaires

The Santa Anita racing meet just closed. Over the past 4 years there were 146 jockeys who went to post. Santa Anita has a very competitive jockey colony. The way I record jockey statistics is track specific, separated by jockey-trainer, sprint and route and the count is for the exacta 40% is bold and in red and 50% is bold and in blue. These are the statistics and colors that I like to bet.

Santa Anita has the big race riders of Mike Smith, a recent Triple Crown winner who has earned over $320 million.  His 10% is worth over $32 million. Victor Espinoza, also a recent Triple Crown winner, produced $198 million in purses and almost $20 million for his commissions and Gary Stevens who has won each leg of the Triple Crown three times who has earned over $256 million in purses and his 10% is worth around $26 million in commissions.

In the Garden spot is Rafael Bejarano who has earned for his career a little over $195 million and $19 million for himself and Kentucky Derby winner Kent Desormeaux with just under $198 million in earnings and a personal income of around $19 million.  Make a mistake and

these jockeys can make the next move up; Flavien Prat who has earned over $36 million and commissions of $3.6 million, Joe Talamo has earned just under $98 million and $9 million for himself. Tyler Baze has won about $112 million and $11 million for his commissions. Edwin Maldonado has cashed for over $35 million and his commission is over $3.5 million. Two-time Kentucky Derby winner Mario Gutierrez has earned just under $45 million and $4.5 million for his percentage.  And there are more quality jockeys sitting behind them. The competition for mounts at Santa Anita is unseen by the grandstand.

All the top riders at Santa Anita are veterans. Very few bug boys make it here. The Route races at Santa Anita is where the Triple Crown starts its annual run with trainers like Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neil. The line up of jockeys is formidable. 131 jockeys went to post in Route races. There are 131 jockeys willing to replace these millionaires who are at the top and there are other millionaires trying to replace other millionaires above them.There were 11 races on closing day at Santa Anita with a total purse payout of $590,000. The winner gets 60%, $354,000 and the winning jockey gets 10%, just over $35,000 awarded in commissions. That is why 146 jockeys have taken a shot at Santa Anita. The top 10 jockeys are really 20 deep.

Mike Smith earned around $312,000 for the three Triple Crown wins, about six and a half minutes of work. Around 25% of his commission went to the jockey agent who books his mounts, $77,000 and 10% goes to Mike Smith’s valet around $31,000. The valets keep the jockeys looking like the millionaires that they are. In total $109,000 which nets Mike about $200,000 before taxes from three races. Two different jockey’s, both based at Santa Anita won the Triple Crown two out of the last four years.

The way I determine how good a jockey is, is through the trainers and their red and blue statistics. The red stats generally have a larger number of races than the blue stats. Blue has stats that are 50% in the exacta and this catches a lot of 4 for 8 or 5 for 10 stats and many of these are for small start trainers. So how many red and blue stats does it take to make a millionaire in route races? According to the trainers; Rafael Bejarano is one of the best millionaires to put on your horse .Bejarano has raced for 78 different trainers. 16 trainers in route races have red and blue stats, 21% Rafael has very big stats to bet on. Rafael has earned over $19 million for himself and over $195 million for his owners for all his races

Elvis Trujillo has two red or blue stats from 33 route trainers, 6% however, he has earned $70 million on the track, $7 million in commissions. Trujillo needs more route races to get to that $100 million in earnings mark. Like me Elvis Trujillo is probably only aware of today’s races and not what happened yesterday.

Mike Smith rode for 43 trainers and 7 are red or blue stats, 16%. Kent Desormeaux rode for 43 trainers with 7 red or blue stats, 16% and Joe Talamo has 72 trainers that supplied him with 7 red or blue stats, 10%. Talamo has almost $100 million in earnings, Smith almost $314 million and Desormeaux has $198 million and they each earn 10%.

55 trainers went to post with Drayden Van Dyke. Two were red or blue stats, 4%. Van Dyke still earned $25 million overall on the track and $2.5 million for his 10%. These kind of stats and earnings is an indicator of how good Van Dyke is in a very talented group of very competitive and driven jockey colony.  The big purse money is in route races and he still produces a good living without a lot of support from the route trainers.

Santiago Gonzalez has $16 million in earnings, $1.6 million for his commission. 44 trainers that Gonzalez rode for have 6 red and blue stats, 14%.

Gary Stevens has stats with 49 trainers and produce 6 40% and 50% red and blue stats, 12%. He has earned $256 million in purses and over $25 million in personal income.

Victor Espinoza raced for 40 trainers and 5 were red or blue, 13%. He cashed for almost $198 million for his owners and they paid him over $19 million. Sometimes I get confused who owns the Bentley.

Tyler Baze raced for 90 trainers and had 4 red or blue statistics, 4%.  Baze has cashed for almost $112 million and around $11 million in personal income.

On closing day Tyler Baze won 3 races with purses that totaled $179,000. The winning owner made 60% and Tyler Baze made 10% of that, about $10,800.

Rafael Bejarano won 2 races with purses totaling $163,000. The owner made over $107,000 and Bejarano’s 10% commission was over $10,000.

Kent Desormeaux hit one race with a purse of $36,000.  $21,600 went to the owner and Desormeaux cashed for about $2,100.

Flavien Prat hit the 2nd race and race 7 on closing day for total purse money of $60,000.  $36,000 went to the owners and $3,600 Prat earned for himself.

Joe Talamo scored on race 8 with a $59,000 purse. $35,400 went to the owner and Talamo went home with over $3,000.

Tyler Conner won race 4 with a purse of $30,000. $18,000 went to the owner and Conner made $1,800 in commissions. Tyler Conner has earned $11 million on the track and his 10% is $1.1 million.

The last race on closing day was won by Triple Crown winner Mike smith for a purse of $63,000. $37,800 of this purse was for the owner and $3,780 was Smith’s 10% commission. 146 other jockeys are trying to do what he is doing.

The rewards of being a jockey are if you can catch on as a jockey you can earn millions in commissions. The reality is 146 are trying to muscle their way into these millions.  The competition for mounts is relentless. When a jockey makes it they have to maintain that ability to race and win even if they are injured or ill. If they have to take time off to recover another jockey just as talented as he is will step right in. Jockeys can not rest on their laurels like a Triple Crown winner because another Triple Crown winner can replace you or he will be replaced by another jockey who is just as good,

Charles Darwin said “The environment determines what an animal behaves like and looks like.”  The jockey colony at Santa Anita is civil to each other and the public. Ask any jockey a question and you will get a direct and honest answer.  I bet on millionaires but none of them act like millionaires. They leave the politics of securing mounts to their jockey agent and their differences with each other are handled mostly in the jockey’s room. You would never know all these jockeys are wealthy. Maybe Darwin was talking about jockeys or maybe he was talking about me. I like betting on millionaires.

Ed Bain author of new Horse Racing Novel
Libraries, Yellow Cheese Sandwiches and 38,880 Running Lines

Bain has been betting professionally on thoroughbred horse racing since 1994 using the statistics that he has compiled.

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