Jockeys to watch (and wager on) at Del Mar

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July 16th, 2019

You’ve heard of horses for courses, but what about jockeys for courses?

For a variety of reasons, some jockeys excel when riding at particular racetracks, specific distances or on dirt versus turf and vice versa. When the 2019 summer meet at Del Mar kicks off Wednesday, which jockeys should we expect to see in the spotlight during the 36-day racing season?

Based on data from Statsmaster, here are a few jockeys to watch (and wager on) at Del Mar this summer.
  • You can count on jockey to give you a run for your money. The winner of the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice jockey in 2014, Van Dyke went 21-for-127 (17%) during the 2017 summer meet to post a +22% ROI. He upped his game in 2018, when he won the meet title with a 42-for-160 (26%) record. His high strike rate contributed to a +26% ROI, so handicappers who wagered blindly on Van Dyke's mounts over the last two years would have enjoyed a healthy profit.
  • Flavien Prat can’t boast quite the same numbers as Van Dyke, but he produced a +4% ROI when he won the meet title in 2017 (he went 35-for-168, 21%), and he increased his ROI to +11% when he went 37-for-146 (25%) in 2018.
  • Another reason to play Van Dyke and Prat? They’ve been proficient on both dirt and turf. No matter the surface, you can rely on them to guide a high percentage of runners to the winner’s circle.
  • Tiago Pereira rides a lot of longshots at Del Mar each summer—410 runners at 8-1 or higher since 2014—but he also boots home a surprising number of winners. Over the last five years, he’s guided 21 longshots to victory at Del Mar, generating a flat-bet profit every year between 2014 and 2017. If you can identify the best of Pereira’s longshots, you’ll be rewarded with some nice payoffs.
  • Need to count on a favorite to get the job done in a multi-race wager? It helps if Victor Espinoza is in the saddle. Although he missed the 2018 Del Mar summer meet with an injury, between 2014 and 2017 Espinoza went 26-for-56 aboard favorites, a 46% strike rate.
  • Assael Espinoza is an up-and-coming rider to keep an eye on at Del Mar. Last summer he finished fourth in the jockey standings, with 22 wins from 193 mounts, and generated a +6% ROI. He was especially effective riding in dirt routes, where he scored seven wins from 35 mounts, a 20% strike rate (nearly double his overall 11% rate).
Enjoy the racing!