Analysis of Leading Horses and Jockeys in 2023

After riding three wins on the first two days of the Cheltenham Festival, including Energumene in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Paul Townend is the clear leader in the leading jockey standings, and the 2/11 favorite to win the crown for a third consecutive year.

With his victory on Tuesday atop the fan-favorite Constitution Hill, Nico De Boinville now sits in second place in the betting at 11/2. Michael O’Sullivan is in second place overall with two victories, however, he is tied for third in the betting odds with Davy Russell at 16/1.

The black market for gambling is expanding at a rate nearly double that of the legal industry, and nearly two-thirds of all internet betting sites are illegal.

Authorities have recently had considerable success in reducing the influence of illegal behemoth Citibet, an online market which experts have previously claimed turns over more than US$50 billion annually.

Last month, a single racing meeting at the Hong Kong Jockey Club brought in around $250 million in revenue. On the penultimate day of the Asian Racing Conference in Melbourne, Tom Chignell, the Jockey Club’s executive manager of racing integrity and betting analysis, claimed that Citibet was not far behind that in terms of the volume of their turnover on Hong Kong racing.

Hong Kong horse racing had a 9 percent increase in attendance in comparison to the previous year. While Hong Kong racing is a major source of revenue for Citibet, the company also serves punters in Australia and the rest of the world’s most important racing jurisdictions. Despite efforts by law enforcement and other Australian government agencies to crack down on the illegal market, which initially proved successful, the industry has since rebounded.

Leading Jockeys of 2023

  • Flavien Prat
  • John R. Velazquez
  • Irad Ortiz Jr.
  • Joel Rosario
  • Tyler Gaffalione
  • Florent Geroux
  • Luis Saez
  • Jose Ortiz
  • Junior Alvarado
  • Mike E. Smith

Flavien Prat

Another jockey who excelled in 2021 was Flavien Prat. Among other races, he won the Kentucky Oaks, Kentucky Derby, and Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Prat has demonstrated consistency in the field, winning prestigious contests such as the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Santa Anita Derby, and Pacific Classic.

John R. Velazquez

Another outstanding jockey, John Velazquez, had a successful year in 2021. He won prestigious events such as the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Kentucky Oaks, and Belmont Stakes. With four Belmont Stakes victories and two Kentucky Derby victories under his belt, Velazquez has long been considered one of the sport’s most accomplished jockeys.

Irad Ortiz Jr.

Irad Ortiz Jr., a Puerto Rican jockey, was born on August 11, 1992, and has since become one of the top riders in the New York Thoroughbred horse racing circuit. He won his first Breeders’ Cup race in 2014 aboard Lady Eli, and his first American Classic in 2016 aboard Creator. He rode Mo Donegal to victory in the 2022 Belmont Stakes.

Joel Rosario

Joel Rosario, who was born in the Dominican Republic on January 14, 1985, is a champion jockey in American Thoroughbred horse racing. In the course of five weeks in 2013, he rode the winners of the Kentucky Derby and the Dubai World Cup. His most recent victories came in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Whitney Stakes, and Pegasus World Cup while riding Knicks Go. 

When Rosario won six races on one race card on December 11, 2009, he tied the previous record set at Hollywood Park Racetrack. The accomplishment has previously been accomplished by jockeys in the Hall of Fame Bill Shoemaker (1953, 1970), Laffit Pincay, Jr. (1968), and Kent Desormeaux (1992).

Tyler Gaffalione

A rising star in racing, Tyler Gaffalione (born September 12, 1994 in Davie, Florida) is an American jockey who has won more than 200 races annually in each of his first three full seasons since winning the Eclipse Award for 2015’s U.S. Champion Apprentice Jockey. He rode War of Will to victory in the 2019 Preakness Stakes.

On September 7, 2014, at Gulfstream Park, Tyler Gaffalione won his maiden race while riding. On May 3, 2015, he won five races on a single Gulfstream Park racecard, and on July 4, 2017, he tied Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey’s 19-year-old record by winning seven races on a single Gulfstream Park racecard. This track quickly became a fan favourite. Tyler Gaffalione won his sixth riding championship at Gulfstream Park on June 30, 2018.

Florent Geroux

In American thoroughbred horse racing, Florent Geroux (born July 16, 1986) has won more than 1,700 races, including the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic on Gun Runner, two Breeders’ Cup Distaff victories with Monomoy Girl, and the 2021 Kentucky Derby on Mandaloun.

Luis Saez

Another jockey who had a strong year in 2021 was Luis Saez. Among the notable events he triumphed in were the Preakness Stakes, Haskell Invitational, and Cigar Mile. Saez has been a top jockey for many years, winning several races and consistently being ranked among the best in the business.

Jose Ortiz

The New York Thoroughbred horse racing circuit has used Puerto Rican jockey José L. Ortiz (born October 2, 1993) as a rider since 2012. His numerous victories in 2016, including his first victory in the Breeders’ Cup, made him the top jockey in North America. After dominating the earnings list and winning his first Triple Crown race, the 2017 Belmont Stakes, he was given the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2017. He triumphed in the Kentucky Oaks in 2019. He won his second Triple Crown race, the Preakness Stakes, in 2022.

Junior Alvarado

Junior Rafael Alvarado (born May 20, 1986) is a jockey in the sport of thoroughbred racing. He rode his first winner on December 30, 2005, at La Rinconada Hippodrome near Caracas, Venezuela, before relocating to ride in the United States in 2007. On February 17, 2008, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, he got his first winner.

Mike E. Smith

Since the early 1990s, Michael Earl Smith (born August 10, 1965) has been one of the top riders in American Thoroughbred racing. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2003, and he has won the most Breeders’ Cup races of any jockey with 27 victories. With approximately $336 million in earnings, Smith ranks third among all jockeys. As the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown in 2018, Smith, 52, rode Justify to victory in 2018.