LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Triple Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith, a two-time Kentucky Derby winner, found himself with a tough choice to make as the regular rider for the top two Derby contenders: Richard Mandella’s Omaha Beach and Bob Baffert’s Roadster.
Smith won the Arkansas Derby above Omaha Beach and won the Santa Anita Derby with Roadster. Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia told The Courier-Journal that Smith’s choice likely would figure into his selection as morning-line favorite.
Smith’s pick is in: He’ll ride Omaha Beach in the Derby, Mandella told The Daily Racing Form.
“I just got the call,” Mandella told drf.com. “We’re good. Mike Smith. I’m very happy.”
Baffert announced that Florent Geroux will pick up the mount on Roadster.
Smith became the oldest jockey ever to win the Triple Crown when he piloted the Baffert-trained Justify to the feat last summer at age 52. It was his third victory in the Belmont, and he’s also won the Preakness twice in addition to Derby wins in 2005 and last year.
Asked after that race which colt he would pick for the Derby, Smith demurred and said he’d let his agent decide.
The choice is in, and it might well be enough to ensure that Omaha Beach is the Derby morning-line favorite.
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