Mike Smith, the famed jockey who rode Justify to a Triple Crown, is riding a horse named Cutting Edge in the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
Smith is 53-years-old. This time he’s astride a long-shot horse, and his decision to ride Cutting Edge after his original horse scratched is causing some controversy.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mike Smith Is Riding the Horse Cutting Edge in the 2019 Kentucky Derby Because Omaha Beach Scratched
Mike Smith was initially supposed to be riding Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach. However, that horse scratched because it needed surgery. Smith soon found a new mount, however, and he will be astride the horse Cutting Edge during the Derby.
Smith took over for Cory Lanerie on Cutting Edge, according to Blood Horse.
The change didn’t sit well with some people on Twitter. “Corey has every right to be unhappy. This is not cool. And Mike Smith should have immediately said no thank you, that the commitment was made & the ride belongs to Lanerie,” wrote one man.
Starlight Racing’s Cutting Edge is trained by Todd Pletcher. Smith will get 10% of any purse earned by the horse.
2. Mike Smith Rode Justify to Amazing Success & Is in the Hall of Fame
Mike Smith was the jockey who rode Justify to the Triple Crown. He was the oldest jockey ever to do so at age 53, according to Yahoo Sports.
In contrast, Cutting Edge is perceived as a long shot to win the 2019 Kentucky Derby, the site reports. Smith is such a legend in horse racing that he has been in the Hall of Fame since 2003.
He has won the Kentucky Derby twice. His other win came in 2005 on another long-shot horse.
3. Corey Lanerie Called the Change a ‘Slap in the Face’
Corey Lanerie’s wife, Shantel, died of cancer a year ago, adding to the sympathy for him.
“I really thought everything was going to be OK and I was going to ride the horse,” Lanerie said Friday afternoon to USA Today.
“I thought this year might have been my year because of all that,” Lanerie added to the newspaper. “I felt I would have had an angel with me to help me through.”
He continued, according to USA Today: “It feels like a slap in the face. All the hard work that we put into our careers, trying to make it to this point, it just kinds of devastates you. It’s a moment you’ve lived for and tried to wait for all year. Then you think you’ve got it and the next minute they just take it from you.”
4. Mike Smith’s Career Earnings as a Jockey Total More Than $322 Million
Mike Smith is obviously an elite jockey. His career earnings demonstrate this. According to Equibase, his career earnings total $322,431,605 in more than 32,000 starts.
Smith has earned more than $4.5 million in 2019. His top earnings year was in 2017 when he earned more than $20 million.
Of course, jockeys don’t get all of that money. Most of them earn between $100,000 and $200,000 a year. You can read more about the 2019 Kentucky Derby jockeys here.
5. Mike Smith Is Divorced, Remarried & Dated a Fellow Jockey
Does Mike Smith have a wife? The answer is yes. He married wife Cynthia in January 2019. “It’s been really great. We really enjoy what we do together. She’s been able to travel with me some. We’re really blessed. We’re doing good together,” he told America’s Best Racing.
You can see pictures from the couple’s wedding day here.
He added to the site: “We’d been seeing each other for quite a while. The big change is living together. We had never lived together. So it’s just moving things around here and there to make everything fit.”
He was married once before. Her name is Patrice Lively, and she is the daughter of a jockey named John Lively. They were married for 14 years, according to Breeders Cup.
He was also involved in a relationship with another jockey named Chantal Sutherland, but they broke up in 2010 and she married someone else. Smith does not have children.
“I look back at where I started and it’s hard for me to get a grasp on all that kind of stuff,” Smith said, according to Breeders Cup.
According to Breeders Cup.com, Smith is “from New Mexico by way of New York and numerous points in between.”