Blame It On The Jockey

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo, via Associated Press.

Yesterday, I received a Tweet from an opinionated individual which read, “If Golden Soul doesn’t win Haskell, I’m not blaming him. Once again point finger at D Stewart for using ice cold R Albarado, 10 for last 100.” I tweeted back, “You place too much emphasis on the jockey. They can only win when the horse beneath them has what it takes to do so.” Of course, I received a reply: “I very much understand that, but Trust me a cold jock (Albarado) is like having an 8yo drive your Lamborghini (Golden Soul).”

Did this guy seriously compare Golden Soul to a Lamborghini? So far this year while running against other three-year-old horses, Golden Soul has failed to win a single race. In fact, the only race Golden Soul has ever won in his entire career was a Maiden race at age two, which suggests the horse will never beat the likes of Verrazano and Orb on his best day, but I am sure my new friend blamed Robby Albarado for his never menacing hug-the-rail trip when he tore up his ticket. Was it Albarado’s fault the horse was never closer than six lengths to the leader at any point in the race; that he was never able to pass a single horse despite the urging of Albarado on the backstretch? At some point, you have to blame the horse.

Too many bettors place too much emphasis on the jockey. Robby Albarado has a lifetime win percentage in excess of 16%, and up and down slumps can have a myriad of reasons for occurring, most related to the performance of the horse a jockey is contracted to ride. Looking at the won/loss ratio for the past one hundred mounts of a jockey of Albarado’s caliber is short sighted at best.

I learned long ago that the jockey sitting on top of a horse is usually the least of the horse’s problems. If a trainer has a horse that is primed and ready to fire, the rider smiling for the camera in the winner’s circle might just as easily be the trainer’s grandmother if she is capable of holding on tight enough and pointing the horse in the right direction.

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