Meet the Kentucky Derby Jockeys

Nicole Fabian-Weber
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jockeysHey y'all, the Kentucky Derby is here. (If you were standing in front of me right now, you'd know that that was supposed to be read with a sweet, Mae West-type twang.) And it's kind of exciting, no? I love me a good derby -- especially when it's Kentucky. The horse names, the Southern tradition of it all, the hats! It's such a nice, beautiful event that I will probably never attend.

You know who I kind of feel bad for, though? The jockeys. It seems like all the attention is always on the horses and those damn hats. I'm not doing that, though. Nope. Not this girl. Why don't we all take a gander at five of this year's top jockeys. Last one past the jump's a rotten egg!

Anna Napravnik, Pants on Fire. She goes first 'cause she's a lady. Napravnik, AKA Rosie, is the sixth woman ever to ride in the Derby -- and if she finishes in 10th or better, she’ll be the highest finishing woman ever! Don't worry if she doesn't do it this year, though. She’s just 23 -- and ultra-talented -- so it's doubtful that this will be her last Derby.

Calvin Borel, Twice the Appeal. No doubt the most well-known of the bunch. Borel has won the race three times in the last four years. Dang! His 2009 Derby win with Mine That Bird was the second biggest upset in Derby history behind Donerail; and Borel's winning margin of 6 3/4 lengths was the greatest in Derby history since the horse Assault won by 8 lengths in 1946. It should be interesting to watch what happens this year, as Borel almost didn’t wind up in the race. All of his prospects fell through. He was left without a horse and had to steal the ride on the longshot, "Twice," at the last moment.

Garrett Gomez, Master of Hounds. Touted as "the best jockey in the country to have never won the Derby," Gomez has come so close, yet so far away. He was second in 2009 aboard Pioneer of The Nile. Like Borel, he was out of luck with his regular mounts so he settled for this European longshot that seems outclassed and has never run on dirt. Yikes.

Kerwin Clark, Decisive Moment. The oldest jockey in the bunch. Clark just turned 52, and despite the fact that he's been riding since he was 16, he’s never had a mount in the Derby before. When the gates crack open, he’ll become the oldest rookie ever in the Derby. Don't feel bad for him, though -- he has won more than 2,600 career races.

Julien Leparoux, Dialed In. The French-born jockey only started riding in 2005, but he has taken the sport by storm. In 2009 he won the Breeders Cup. He also then became the second jockey in history to win three Breeders Cup races in a single year following Gomez. Julien joined the ranks of the most celebrated jockeys in history when on January 18, 2010, it was announced he had received the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey 2009.

Who's your money on?

 

Image via Ronnie MacDonald/Flickr

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