My Most Memorable Mike Smith Rides

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D.S. Williamson

September 23rd, 2016

In an earlier blog, I talked about how the great Mike Smith had a shot to own both Breeders' Cup Friday and Breeders' Cup Saturday this year. It got me thinking that it's the perfect time to take a look at my most memorable Mike Smith rides...

Zenyatta (2009 Breeders' Cup Classic)

As Trevor Denman said, "This is unbelievable!" It was. It also shows how well Mike Smith knew Zenyatta. It didn't appear that she had any shot along the backstretch. Even when they hit the top of the stretch, Zenyatta still had work to do. Smith's handle with Zenyatta was like a great point-guard directing the rest of a basketball team in an unbelievable offense. He was Magic Johnson with the Lakers aboard Zenyatta.

Palace Malice (2013 Belmont Stakes)

I'll never forget Mike Smith's ride aboard Palace Malice in the 2013 Belmont. It was as perfect of a ride as one could ever expect. Smith got his horse close enough to the pace in order to get the jump on competitors like Revolutionary and that year's Kentucky Derby winner Orb without burning his horse out chasing a super-fast pace. Sometimes, a ride that looks as simple as can be are the toughest rides. Having the ability to first understand pace and then to use that understanding in order to save your horse for the end of a 1 1/2 mile race is impressive.

Giacomo (2005 Kentucky Derby)

Sure, Giacomo and Smith took advantage of an incredibly fast pace. But they still had to run down one of the best horses to ever win the Preakness and Belmont without winning the Triple Crown in Afleet Alex. Smith had to be patient enough to kick his charge into gear at the exact right time in order to run down so many talented horses in front of him. That's what I call great race riding.

Holy Bull (1994 Travers)

Holy Bull and Mike Smith finished 12 out of 14 horses in the 1994 Kentucky Derby. Holy Bull didn't appreciate the mud. Smith and the 1994 Horse of the Year made amends for the bad Derby run in the 1994 Midsummer Classic, the Travers Stakes. At one point in the stretch it looked like Concern, who would go on to win the 1994 Breeders Cup Classic, was going to run right by Holy Bull. Smith muscled the Bull home first.

This ride shows another element of Smith's incredible repertoire. Not only does he understand pace. Not only can he drive his mounts through traffic without losing momentum. But Smith can also muscle his mounts ahead of other great horses to the wire. It's incredible how good Mike Smith is.