Saturday, May 17, 2008

Where are the big name jockeys?

Another expected romp delivered by Big Brown will set up a very intriguing Belmont Stakes, as there is a lot of hype over the Japanese horse Casino Drive, who put in a fantastic win in the Peter Pan Stakes. And no matter which horse comes out ahead in that last race of the Triple Crown, there should be even more amazing races to come when they tackle older horses and most notably Curlin later in the year. So there are still many big name horses. But where are the big name jockeys?

On the Preakness card, I recognized Desormeaux, Prado, Mike Smith, a couple others, but where are the big race Hall of Fame jockeys? I'm not talking about Corey Nakatani, I'm talking about jockeys of the caliber of Jerry Bailey, Chris McCarron, and Gary Stevens. Even guys whose names weren't as well known like Pat Day and Eddie Delahoussaye. It just seems to me that the old guard isn't dominating while at the same time none of the younger jockeys have really stood out. I must say that I don't follow American racing that extensively so I could be missing someone.

So let's look at world turf racing then. Here's an entirely different story. Besides the whirlwind that has been Christophe Soumillon, it seems to me that every big race and every leaderboard is filled with jockeys whose names I've recognized from a lot of years of watching horseracing. Most of these guys range from 38 (Frankie Dettori) to 49! (Michael Kinane). This leads me to one question that I haven't been able to find an answer for on the web. How strict (if at all) are performance enhancing substance policies for jockeys? I know every jurisdiction takes great care in figuring out what drugs are or are not allowed on the horses, but I wonder about the oversight on jockeys. I mean, to be a world class athlete at those ages is really tough, even in this modern day of medicine. No jockey would really take anything to bulk up, but things like HGH which improve recovery time could change the landscape of racing for these aging jockeys.

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