The Brock Talk

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mike Smith Defects Mine That Bird Camp

Now we don't know again.

In my previous post below on The Brock Talk, I suggested we were getting to know Mine That Bird and his team. Well, I wasn't exactly right. Last night many industry publications including Daily Racing Form (, and reported that Mike Smith has decided not to ride the Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness runner-up in the Belmont Stakes.

Instead, Smith will ride Madeo in the Charlie Whittingham Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 6, the same day as the Belmont Stakes. Riding the probable favorite in the grade 1, $1,000,000 Belmont Stakes as opposed to riding in a grade 1, $300,000 Whittingham seems an obvious choice for Smith. But apparently loyalty and character - and perhaps good business - have trumped prestige and money for Smith who has a long relationship with Jerry and Jan Moss, the owners of Madeo. Racing fans may remember that Smith won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo at 50-1 for the Moss team that also includes Madeo's trainer John Sheriffs. Jerry and Jan Moss' teal and pink silks have for decades been among the most successul on the southern California racing circuit of Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar.

According to Steve Haskin on, Smith explained on “At the Races with Steve Byk,” “(Jerry and Jan Moss and trainer Sheriffs) are my first call people, and they have done so much for my career. This is an important race (grade I) for Madeo, and I need to be there. I would never ask them to get out of my commitment.”

The factors Smith and his agent Brad Pegram used to make their decision are even more convoluted than simple loyalty and illustrate well the often complicated decisions jockeys and agents make every morning at racetracks across the globe. This decsions just happens to be in racing world's spotlight. And a spotlight turned on high beam after jockey Calvin Borel ditched Mine That Bird for Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness.

There may be no hard feelings between Borel and the Bird camp however, as Rachel Alexandra's owner Jess Jackson has not committed to the Belmont yet. Should they decide not to run her in the third leg of the Triple Crown, Borel would become available to again ride Mine That Bird.

If he and agent Jerry Hissam pull this one off, I say we start a campaign for Arizona State to give them both honorary degrees.

Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley Jr. however, has said that the search for a new rider has begun and that he will not wait to see whether Rachel Alexandra runs in the Belmont.

"It's kind of funny," Woolley said Monday. "You'd think if you get a horse this good, you'd keep (a jockey), but apparently not."


Rene C said...

I'd like to know more about agents and jockeys and how that works.

Rene C said...

I'd like to know more about agents and jockeys and how that works.

Maddie4361 said...

watching mike on jockeys tv show makes this no surprise