Best Jockeys to Watch in the Breeders’ Cup 2022

According to most bettors, a jockey is said to influence a horse's performance in a race by roughly 10%. Although jockeys couldn't win on a mule, they can hugely affect the performance of great horses.

To reach the top of their profession, the best jockeys put in many hours of hard labor and sometimes put their own needs on the back burner. That's why in the 2022 Breeders' Cup, we won't just analyze the performance records of the horses but also those of the riders. Let's look at the jockeys with the best odds of winning the Breeders' Cup so you will know what pair to support.

Mike Smith

American jockey Michael Earl Smith has been a top rider in U.S. Thoroughbred racing since the early 1990s. He won 27 Breeders' Cup races, more than any other jockey, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2003.

On June 18 at the Salvador Mile Stakes, Hot Rod Charlie, ridden by Mike Smith, finished in second place. The pair have been given rigorous training by its trainer, Doug F. O'Neill, so fans are optimistic about their chances. Horses trained by this trainer have won many Breeders' Cup and handicap races.

Flavien Prat

Flavien Prat is a multiple graded stakes winning jockey who came from a long line of trainers. He has ridden in five different countries: the United States, France, Canada, Germany, and Italy. Prat began making winter visits to Southern California for leisure in 2009.

When Prat first came to North America to compete in 2015, he finished second in the Del Mar Summer Meet. On September 4 of that same year, he rode Wild Dude to win the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar. This became his first four-win day.

For the 2022 Breeders' Cup, he'll be riding Flightline, the bay colt who is presently the odds-on favorite for the classic race together with Life is Good.

Irad Ortiz Jr.

A Puerto Rican jockey named Irad Ortiz Jr. quickly rose to prominence in the New York Thoroughbred racing circuit in 2012. In 2014, he won the Breeders' Cup on Lady Eli. He ranked first in the Belmont Stakes on Creator in 2016, making it his first victory in an American Classic. In this year's Belmont Stakes, he was the jockey on the winning horse, Mo Donegal.

He is set to ride Count Again for the Mile, Goodnight Olive for the Filly and Mare Sprint, and Life is Good for the Classic at Breeders' Cup 2022.

Javier Castellano

With over 5,000 wins from 29,000 starts and awards like the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey, Javier Castellano is considered one of the best jockeys in American Thoroughbred horse racing history.

Castellano's first major victories came in 2003 and 2004 when he rode the Frank Stronach horse Ghostzapper. His first Breeders' Cup victory was in the Classic in 2004. He has won 12 Breeders' Cup races and at least one race each year from 2012 through 2019.

Joel Rosario

Before moving to California, Joel Rosario was the Dominican Republic's four-time best jockey. He moved to the United States in 2006. Throughout 2007, he was busy building his career in Northern California..

To cap off a successful year in which he earned over $35 million, jockey Joel Rosario was awarded the Eclipse Award as the year's outstanding jockey for the first time in 2021. In the Breeders' Cup 2022, Rosario will be atop Epicenter, an early favorite because of the horse's stellar track record.

John Velasquez

Velazquez, a two-time recipient of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey, has consistently excelled in the most elite races. Animal Kingdom (2011), Always Dreaming (2017), and Authentic (2020) are the horses he has ridden to victory in the Kentucky Derby. Velazquez won his 200th Grade 1 race with the 2020 Derby victory.

He also won the Belmont Stakes in 2007 (with Rags to Riches) and again in 2012 (with Union Rags). Furthermore, Velazquez has earned 18 Breeders' Cup races, including the 2020 Classic with Authentic. With a total of $34,220,275, he is second all-time in Breeders' Cup purse earnings.

Ryan Moore

The European jockey Ryan Moore has won nine Breeders' Cup races out of 83 starts, taking home a total of $16,917,035 in prize money.

Moore won the Breeders' Cup Turf in 2008 and 2009 on the champion horse Conduit and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in 2011 and 2012 on Wrote and George Vancouver, respectively. However, his last Breeders' Cup victory was in the Juvenile Turf with Mendelssohn way back in 2017. At the 2022 Breeders' Cup, he'll ride Blackbeard, one of the Juvenile contenders.

Final Thoughts

The Breeders' Cup, the ultimate horse racing battle where the best horses from all over the world race against one another, is quickly approaching. It's important to remember that these horses will only be as successful with competent trainers and jockeys behind them.