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10 Jockeys to Watch at Saratoga Race Course This Summer

From future stars to Eclipse winners and Hall of Famers, these jockeys are nothing short of a sure bet.

Jockey Jose Ortiz sits atop our list of jockeys this season at Saratoga. (Brien Bouyea)

The jockey colony at Saratoga Race Course is regarded by many racing experts as the deepest and most talented in all of North America. The competition to be among the elite at Saratoga in 2020 will be as fierce as ever, with multiple Eclipse Award winners and members of the Hall of Fame facing off. Here are the 10 riders we think have the best shot at glory this summer.

(1) Jose Ortiz

2019 Saratoga Stats: 60 wins (21 percent); $5.4 million earnings

The 2017 Eclipse Award winner (pictured above) nabbed his 2,000th career win in June. The 26-year-old native of Puerto Rico has three Breeders’ Cup wins to his credit, and won the 2017 Belmont Stakes. He led all North American jockeys in wins in 2016 and in earnings in 2017. He was also the leading rider at Saratoga in 2016, 2017 and 2019.

(Brien Bouyea)

(2) Irad Ortiz, Jr.

2019 Saratoga Stats: 53 wins (19 percent); $4.8 million earnings

The two-time reigning Eclipse Award winner—Jose’s older brother—has more than 2,500 career wins at the age of 27. A winner of nine Breeders’ Cup races and the 2016 Belmont Stakes, Ortiz has led all North American jockeys in both wins and earnings each of the past two years. He garnered leading rider honors at Saratoga in 2015 and 2018.

(Brien Bouyea)

(3) Javier Castellano

2019 Saratoga Stats: 39 wins (22 percent); $4.2 million earnings

The Venezuela native is a four-time Eclipse Award winner and a 2017 Hall of Fame inductee. He’s also the winner of 12 Breeders’ Cup races and is a two-time Preakness Stakes winner. At the age of 42, he has more than 5,200 career wins and ranks second of all time in earnings with more than $345 million. He was leading rider at Saratoga in 2013 and 2014, and has won the Travers Stakes a record six times.

(Brien Bouyea)

(4) Joel Rosario

2019 Saratoga Stats: 37 wins (17 percent); $3.8 million earnings

Rosario has won more than 2,900 career races, including 11 Breeders’ Cup races, the Kentucky Derby, Dubai World Cup and two editions of the Belmont Stakes. The 35-year-old native of the Dominican Republic ranks 14th overall with career earnings of more than $219 million. His Saratoga wins include the Alabama, Fourstardave, Jim Dandy, Whitney and Woodward, among others.

(Brien Bouyea)

(5) Luis Saez

2019 Saratoga Stats: 36 wins (13 percent); $3.7 million earnings

The 28-year-old Panamanian has more than 2,400 career wins and has ranked in the top 10 among North American jockeys in both wins and earnings each of the past four years. At Saratoga, Saez has won the Travers, Diana, Fourstardave, Go for Wand, Hopeful, Schuylerville and Test, among others.

(Brien Bouyea)

(6) Junior Alvarado

2019 Saratoga Stats: 23 wins (15 percent); $2.1 million earnings

The 34-year-old native of Venezuela has won more than 1,700 races, including Grade 1s such as the Flat Out, Moreno, Strapping Groom and Preservationist. Alvarado’s wins at Saratoga include the Whitney, Woodward, Forego, Saratoga Special and Honorable Miss, among others.

(Brien Bouyea)

(7) Jose Lezcano

2019 Saratoga Stats: 22 wins (13 percent); $1.9 million earnings

The 35-year-old Lezcano, who hails from Panama, has won more than 2,700 races with earnings of more than $145 million. A winner of three Breeders’ Cup races, Lezcano has ridden Hall of Famers Royal Delta and Wise Dan. At Saratoga, he has won the Alabama, Ballston Spa, Diana, Fourstardave and Lake George, among others.

(Brien Bouyea)

(8) John Velazquez

2019 Saratoga Stats: 21 wins (16 percent); $3.4 million earnings

Velazquez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, and at age 48, has more than 6,100 career wins and is the all-time earnings leader with more than $417 million. The two-time Eclipse Award winner has also won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes twice each as well as 16 Breeders’ Cup races. Additionally, he’s a five-time riding champion at Saratoga; set the track’s career wins mark in 2013, with his 694th victory; and has notched a pair of Travers wins to boot.

(Brien Bouyea)

(9) Manny Franco (tie) 

2019 Saratoga Stats: 17 wins (7 percent); $1.9 million earnings

The 25-year-old native of Puerto Rico has already won more than 1,300 races with earnings of more than $85 million. Franco won his first Breeders’ Cup race in 2019 and has ranked in the Top 10 among North American jockeys in earnings each of the past four years. He also led the overall New York Racing Association standings in wins in both 2018 and 2019. And just this past June, he won the 2020 Belmont Stakes aboard Triple Crown frontrunner Tiz the Law.

(Brien Bouyea)

(9) Ricardo Santana, Jr. (tie)

2019 Saratoga Stats: 17 wins (10 percent); $2.1 million earnings

The Panama native, who attended the prestigious Laffit Pincay, Jr. Jockey School there, broke into riding in North America in 2009 at the age of 16 and has already won more than 1,400 races with purse earnings of more than $75 million. He won his first Breeders’ Cup race in 2019. At Saratoga, he’s won the Forego, Fourstardave, Jim Dandy and Amsterdam, among others.

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