Jockey Mike Smith to skip Breeders’ Cup next weekend – Press Enterprise

On a day when Mike Smith, Juan Hernandez and apprentice Alexis Centeno opened Del Mar’s seventh fall meeting with two victories apiece, Smith said he’ll be skipping next weekend’s Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland Race Course.

Smith, 55, is the Breeders’ Cup’s all-time winningest rider with 26 victories and $36,634,605 in purse earnings.

This will be only the fourth Breeders’ Cup that Smith has missed since his first one in 1990.

“I’m staying. I don’t have any mounts so I’m sitting this one out,” Smith told Del Mar publicity on Saturday during opening day of the track’s Bing Crosby meeting.

Smith might have enjoyed a productive Breeders’ Cup weekend, but his three big horses — Midnight Bisou, Honor A.P. and McKinzie — were retired in the past few months.

He’s 10 victories clear of runner-up John Velazquez in the Breeders’ Cup record books and nearly $10 million ahead of No. 2 Velazquez in purse earnings.

Factor in the travel restrictions dictated by COVID-19, and instead of adding to his impressive Breeders’ Cup numbers, he’ll be riding at Del Mar next weekend.

“It’s kind of depressing,” Smith said. “But I’m going to ride as much as I can at Del Mar and maybe pick up some business while the other guys are back there. Del Mar is such a short meeting, it’s important to get off to a good start and hopefully I’ll be able to kick it off well.”