Mike Smith to Visit Ruidoso Downs

The New Mexico native and Triple Crown-winning jockey will appear at the track on July 8.

Edited press release

Jockey Mike Smith and justify return to the Belmont Park winner's circle on June 9. A native of southeastern New Mexico, Smith will visit Ruidoso Downs on July 8. PHOTO: New York Racing Association/Chelsey Durand

Triple Crown-winning jockey and New Mexico native Mike Smith will make a celebratory appearance at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack on July 8.

“Mike is a global celebrity now and we are honored by his willingness to come to Ruidoso Downs to share his Triple Crown celebration with us,” Ruidoso Downs’ president and general manager Jeff True said. “He is a wonderful ambassador of our sport and he never forgets where he came from.

“He told me his family will fill half the grandstand,so we’re gonna welcome them and all the other racing fans in New Mexico that day to celebrate his amazing accomplishment," True added.

Smith, born in Roswell, won this year’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes with Justify. Justify became the 13th Triple Crown winner in American racing history. At 52, Smith is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.

Smith mentioned Ruidoso Downs while Justify was returning to the Belmont Park winner’s circle.

“He left (the gate) like he was at Ruidoso going 440 yards.” Smith said.

Smith was also the primary rider for the champion mare Zenyatta and all-time leading money earner Arrogate.

Custom-made posters of Smith winning the Belmont Stakes will be on sale at Ruidoso Downs for $10 beginning at 11 a.m. All proceeds from poster sales benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund.

Smith will be at east end of the grandstand for a special autograph signing session. There will be 100 posters on sale for $25 each and Smith will sign the posters for the buyers. Again, all proceeds go to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund.

Smith will then lead the post parade for the seventh race.

Like so many jockeys, Smith began riding at a young age. He was raised on a farm outside of Dexter, New Mexico and by age 11 was riding in match races.

In 1982, Smith obtained his jockey’s license and recorded the first win of his hall of fame career at The Downs at Santa Fe. He went on to ride on the Midwestern circuit, New York circuit and is now on the Southern California circuit.

Smith is known at “Big Money Mike” for his success in the world’s premier races. He has two Kentucky Derby wins, two Preakness Stakes wins, three Belmont Stakes wins and a record 26 Breeders’ Cup wins. He has also won the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Dubai World Cup.

Smith was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2003, His mounts have earned $313 million and he has nearly 5,500 wins. He had his best year in 2017 when his horses earned $20,540,871.

Smith has one official start on a Quarter Horse, as in 2002 he rode Check Him Out to a third-place finish in the $156,800 El Primero Del Ano Derby at Los Alamitos.

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