Triple Crown winning jockey and New Mexico native Mike Smith will make a celebratory appearance at Ruidoso Downs on July 8 and lead the post parade for the seventh race.
Born in Roswell, NM, Smith won this year’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes on Justify, the 13th Triple Crown winner in Thorouhbred racing history. At 52, the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown, Smith mentioned Ruidoso Downs while Justify was returning to the Belmont Park winner’s circle.
“He left (the gate) like he was at Ruidoso going 440 yards.” said Smith, who was also the primary rider for the famous champion mare Zenyatta and the all-time leading money earner Arrogate.
Raised on a farm outside of Dexter, NM, Smith was riding in Quarter Horse match races by the time he was 11. In 1982, he acquired his jockey’s license and recorded the first win of his career at The Downs at Santa Fe. Known at “Big Money Mike,” for his success in the world’s premier races, Smith has won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness twice, the Belmont three times, and captured a record 27 Breeders’ Cup wins. He has also won the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Dubai World Cup.
The winner of 5,400 over races and $313 million, Smith had his best year in 2017 when his horses earned $20,540,871 with an average earnings per start of $74,694. His one official start on a Quarter Horse was in 2002, when he finished finished third in the $156,800 El Primero Del Ano Derby at Los Alamitos, on Check Him Out.
“Mike is a global celebrity and we are honored by his willingness to come to Ruidoso Downs to share his Triple Crown celebration with us,” said Ruidoso Downs president and general manager Jeff True. “He is a wonderful ambassador of our sport and he never forgets where he came from.
“He told me his family will fill half the grandstand, so we are going to welcome them and all the other racing fans in New Mexico (on July 8) to celebrate his amazing accomplishments.”
Custom made posters of Smith winning the Belmont Stakes will be for sale at Ruidoso Downs on July 8, and Smith will be on hand for a special autograph signing session, where he will personally sign 100 posters. All proceeds for poster sales will go to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund.
For additional Ruidoso Downs information, go to the new www.raceruidoso.com