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Kentucky Derby: The 10 Best Jockeys

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09 Mar 2023, 21:24 GMT+10

It doesn't get more prestigious than the Kentucky Derby. Held in Louisville, the Kentucky Derby pulls together the most elite thoroughbreds for a two-kilometer race with a massive prize purse that now totals at $3 million.

Needless to say, the Kentucky Derby is rooted in pageantry and history. It also sees some of the best jockeys in the world go head to head!

So with the next lineup of Kentucky Derby contenders eyeing up the prize, why not rein in the best jockeys the Kentucky Derby has ever seen?

That's exactly what we've done. Here are the 10 best Kentucky Derby jockeys of all time!

John R. Velazquez

John R. Velazquez is widely regarded as one of the greatest jockeys of all time - and he's still not done. He's won the Belmont Stakes, the Preakness Stakes, and the Breeders' Cup Classic, with three wins so far in the Kentucky Derby.

Aside from race wins, John R. Velazquez has also earned various achievements in horse racing, including the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey four times and induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Earl Sande

Earl Sande started his career as a jockey in the early 1910s and quickly proved himself as one of the best riders at the time. He won the Kentucky Derby three times, plus other prestigious races that included the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

Earl Sande was known for his horse riding skill and finesse, plus his front-running style. He's now considered one of the best jockeys of the 20th century.

Isaac Murphy

Isaac Murphy made his name when he won the Kentucky Derby for the first time in 1984. He wasn't done, though, and went on to win it two more times in 1890 and 1891.

Isaac Murphy was known for his ability to control horses in difficult situations. He was also a role model for African American jockeys in the late 19th century, which contributed to him getting inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1955.

Gary Stevens

Gary Stevens is a three-time Kentucky Derby winner who was praised for his tactics on the track, which included his ability to command his horse under pressure. He first won the Kentucky Derby in 1983.

Gary Stevens also won the Preakness Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic, with over 5000 total wins throughout his career. As a result, he was inducted into The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Angel Cordero Jr

After moving from Puerto Rico, it didn't take long for Angel Cordero Jr to establish himself as a top jockey in the States. He enjoyed success in the Triple Crown races, which included three Kentucky Derby wins in 1974, 1976, and 1985.

In total, he won over 7000 races in his career. He was inducted into The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1988.

Victor Espinoza

Victor Espinoza won the Kentucky Derby three times in his career. He also won several other Triple Crown races, plus the Breeders' Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup, among many others.

In addition to being inducted into The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2017, Victor Espinoza also won the Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Jockey three times.

Kent Desormeaux

Kent Desormeaux won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes during his celebrated career, racking up a total of nine Triple Crown wins - three of which were for the Kentucky Derby.

He also won many other major stakes races throughout his career, including the Breeders' Cup Classic, the Dubai World Cup, and the Santa Anita Derby, before being inducted into The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Bill Shoemaker

Bill Shoemaker is regarded as one of the most talented jockeys of all time, winning the Kentucky Derby four times in 1955, 1959, 1965, and 1986, plus the Preakness Stakes two times and the Belmont Stakes five times.

For his achievements, he was inducted into The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Bill Hartack

Bill Hartack won the Kentucky Derby five times in 1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, and 1969. Although he received criticism for his aggressive riding style, Bill Hartack was also praised for his competitiveness, which helped him garner over 4000 race wins in his career.

Bill Hartack was inducted into The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1959, before retiring in the late '70s as one of the horse racing greats.

Eddie Arcaro

Eddie Arcaro won his Kentucky Derby in 1938 - then went on to win it another four times in 1941, 1945, 1948, and 1952. So alongside Bill Hartack, he's the only jockey to have won the Kentucky five times.

Eddie Arcaro also won many other high-profile races before getting inducted into The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Conclusion

And there you have it: the 10 best jockeys to ever race in the Kentucky Derby. These jockeys have won the Kentucky Derby more times than anyone else, and are widely considered among the best jockeys of all time for their achievements!

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