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.”
Smith kicked off the meet Saturday in a robust way, winning the final two races on the nine-race card. He found the winner’s circle with Mister Bold (3-1) in an optional claimer for trainer Jeff Bonde and then rallied to win the nightcap aboard Petruchio (even money) in a pickup mount for trainer Richard Mandella in a maiden special weight.
The late $2 Smith daily double returned $24.20.
Two races earlier, in the $75,000 Kathryn Crosby Stakes for fillies and mares, Never Be Enough, the 6-1 sixth choice in the wagering, rallied from sixth in the seven-horse field to beat Colonial Creed by one length with Tiago Pereira aboard for trainer Manuel Badilla.
Cordiality finished third, and She’s Our Charm, the 9-5 favorite, wound up fifth after setting the pace in the one-mile turf event.
Winning time was 1:33.87.
“My agent (Patty Sterling) spoke to the trainer this morning about this horse,” Pereira said. “He said she’s got lots of speed and could go to the front, but if you go to the front, she’s not going to finish. He said take a hold of her and get her to relax. Then get them in the straight. That’s just what I did, and when I asked the horse in the lane, she had a great kick. Really good way to start the meet for me.”
For Never Be Enough, a 5-year-old daughter of the British sire Sir Percy, it was her first stakes victory in the U.S. after shipping in from Golden Gate Fields following two consecutive victories over the track’s Tapeta synthetic surface. She’s won 7 of 27 lifetime for earnings of $147,425.
“I was a little nervous (when trailing early) at the half-mile pole,” Badilla said by phone from his Golden Gate base. “Then I saw the fractions and I wasn’t as nervous. This mare has a turn of foot and she’s a real runner.”
The stakes victory was Badilla’s first ever at Del Mar.