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Kentucky Derby Jockeys 2024: Which Riders Have The Best ‘Run For The Roses’ Record?

Andy Newton


John Velazquez

The Kentucky Derby jockeys riding in this year’s race are starting to take shape with most booked for the expected runners. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a deeper look at the ‘Churchill Downs Class of 2024’ – including the pilots with the best records and those making their Run For The Roses debut.

Kentucky Derby Jockeys 2024: Confirmed Rides and ‘Run For The Roses’ Record

There will be a maximum of 20 Kentucky Derby horses heading to post on Saturday May 4. Riding them, of course, are 20 Kentucky Derby jockeys hoping to cement themselves in US horse racing folklore.

One of the big names on show at Churchill Downs is three-time winner John Velazquez (52), who will be riding in the race for a remarkable 26th time.

He gets the leg-up on Fierceness for two-time winning handler Todd Pletcher. According to the best Kentucky Derby betting sites, Velazquez rides one of the favorites this year.

Another of the veteran Kentucky Derby jockeys is Frankie Dettori (53). He rides Society Man for Danny Gargan.

2024 Kentucky Derby Horses & Their Jockeys Stats

Horse Trainer
Jockey Kentucky Derby Rides
Kentucky Derby Wins Past Winners (Year)
Forever Young (JPN) Yoshito Yahagi Ryusei Sakai 0 0
Fierceness Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 25 3 Authentic (2020), Always Dreaming (2017) & Animal Kingdom (2011)
Sierra Leone Chad Brown Tyler Gaffalione 6 0
Catching Freedom Brad Cox Flavien Prat 6 1 Country House (2019)
Stronghold Phil D’Amato Antonio Fresu 0 0
Just Steel Wayne Lukas Keith Asmussen 0 0
Endlessly Michael McCarthy Umberto Rispoli 1 0
Mystik Dan Kenny McPeek Brian Hernandez Jr. 4 0
Dornoch Danny Gargan Luis Saez 10 0
Honor Marie Whit Beckman Ben Curtis 0 0
Resilience Bill Mott Junior Alvarado 4 0
West Saratoga Larry Demeritte Jesus Castanon 1 0
Track Phantom Steve Asmussen Joel Rosario 12 1 Orb (2013)
Encino (scratched) Brad Cox Axel Concepcion 0 0
Domestic Product Chad Brown Irad Ortiz Jr. 7 0
Just A Touch Brad Cox Florent Geroux 7 1 Mandaloun (2021)
Catalytic Catalytic Jose Ortiz 8 0
Grand Mo The First Victor Barboza Jr. Emisael Jaramillo 1 0
Society Man Danny Gargan Frankie Dettori 1 0
T O Password (JPN) Daisuke Takayanagi Kazushi Kimura 1 0
Epic Ride John Ennis Adam Beschizza 0 0

Just FOUR Past Winning Kentucky Derby Jockeys Will Ride In 2024 Edition

When reviewing the Kentucky Derby jockeys, we also noticed there are only FOUR past winners in the race.

Yes, only John Velazquez, Flavien Prat, Joel Rosario and Florent Geroux can brag about steering home one of the previous Kentucky Derby winners at Churchill Downs.

However, we will still see 15 jockeys that have ridden at least once in the big race before. These include Japanese rider Kazushi Kimura (T O Password). He rode Mandarin Hero in 2023. Luis Saez (Dornoch), meanwhile, has ten past rides in the race.

John Velazquez Is The Most Experienced Of The Kentucky Derby Jockeys Riding In 2024

If you simply want to bet a 2024 Kentucky Derby runner based on jockey experience, then look no further than John Velazquez. The Puerto Rican jockey has over 6,000 career wins to his name since he started riding in 1990.

Velazquez has also racked up three Run For The Roses wins – the most of any of the Kentucky Derby jockeys in 2024.

His first success in the opening US Triple Crown race came in 2011 on the Graham Motion-trained Animal Kingdom. Velazquez added to that in 2017 with Always Dreaming, while his most recent Derby win came on Authentic in 2020.

He’ll be looking to make it four wins in 2024 as he’s been booked to ride one of the Kentucky Derby favourites in Fierceness, who was last seen bolting up in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park (watch below).

Fierceness is also owned by Mike Repole, who had last year’s late scratching from the race – Forte – and is trained by past winner Todd Pletcher.

The yard knows how to ready one for the Kentucky Derby, with past wins in 2017 (Always Dreaming) and 2010 (Super Saver).

Five Kentucky Derby Jockeys Will Be Making Their Debuts In 2024

In addition to the fifteen riders that have experienced America’s biggest horse race in the past, there will also be up to five Kentucky Derby jockeys in 2024 making their debuts.

The Brad Cox team are yet to confirm their rider for the Godolphin-owned Encino, but here are the jockeys set to make their Run For The Roses debut.

  • Ryusei Sakai (Forever Young)
  • Antonio Fresu (Stronghold)
  • Keith Asmussen (Just Steel)
  • Ben Curtis (Honor Marie)
  • Adam Beschizza (Epic Ride)

Frankie Dettori Will Be Looking To Win The Kentucky Derby For The First Time

Top international jockey Frankie Dettori is another rider that will be grabbing a big chunk of the Kentucky Derby pre-race attention as the 53 year-old hunts down his first ever win in the contest.

Dettori famously made a retirement U-turn last season after saying last term was going to be his final campaign in the saddle. He relocated to ride in the US from this winter.

Riding the Kentucky Derby winner is an obvious goal for Dettori. He has only ridden in the race once before (2000, China Visit 6th).

In true Frankie fashion, he’s also hit the ground running in the US. Dettori made headlines in April after firing in a Santa Anita six-timer.

Frankie Dettori has been booked to ride the Danny Gargan runner Society Man in the 2024 Kentucky Derby, who has been gelded since his last run which was a fine second to Resilience in the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct (watch below).

If Dettori can win the 2024 Kentucky Derby he still won’t be the oldest winning jockey of the race – this honor goes to Bill Shoemaker, who was aged 54 when he rode Ferdinand to win in 1986.

Luis Saez Still Hunting His First Kentucky Derby Win After 10 Tries

Dornoch is one of the best online searched Kentucky Derby horses ahead of this year’s race and will be ridden by Luis Saez.

Saez is one of the more experienced riders in the race with ten past outings and, despite not winning, has come close. He tasted a Derby win for just over 20 minutes in 2019 after he guided home Maximum Security.

However, the Jason Servis-trained horse (later transfered to Bob Baffert) was kicked out after it was deemed he caused interference – with the race going to Country House and jockey Flavien Prat. Saez was also third in 2021 on Essential Quality.

Flavien Prat Won Kentucky Derby In 2019 and Has Several Place Finishes Too

Catching Freedom will have the services of jockey Flavien Prat who has a top record in the Kentucky Derby.

Prat won the race in 2019 on Country House after Maximum Security was disqualified for interference. However, he’s also got a fine strike-rate after running third on Angel Of Empire in 2023 and placing in 2021 on Hot Rod Charlie.

Tyler Gaffalione Is An 11-Time Leading Rider At Churchill Downs

One Kentucky Derby jockey that is yet to win the race but should certainly be on everyone’s radar is Tyler Gaffalione.

The 2024 running will be his seventh try in the race and despite his best finish being 7th in 2019 (War Of Will), Gaffalione is an 11-time leading rider at Churchill Downs, so certainly knows his way around the Kentucky venue.

Gaffalione will ride one of the main Kentucky Derby fancies – Sierra Leone – a horse that has only lost once from five career starts and impressed in winning the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last time out (watch below).

Japanese Jockey Ryusei Sakai To Ride In The Kentucky Derby For The First Time

Last year we saw Mandarin Hero and Derma Sotogake cross the Pacific Ocean on a mission. Both came over from Japan to try and land the Kentucky Derby – but they came up short, finishing out of the show.

The ‘Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby’ this season saw T O Password qualify. He was the horse with the most points from that route. The unbeaten Forever Young made it into the race following his UAE Derby win at the end of March (watch below).

Prior to that, Forever Young, who has banked the most career earnings from the 2024 Kentucky Derby runners (so far), also landed the Saudi Derby at Riyadh. He will be looking for a famous ‘Derby Treble’ at Churchill Downs on May 4.

T O Password has Kazushi Kimura in the saddle. He steered Mandarin Hero to 12th in the race last season. While Forever Young has regular pilot Ryusei Sakai on board.

Both T O Password and Forever Young are looking to become the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby from Japan.

Kentucky Derby Jockeys FAQs

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Andy Newton
Andy Newton

Andy Newton is a horse racing handicapper who specializes in key race trends for the biggest events in sport around the world. His statistical approach to finding winners is one that has paid off time and time again. Check out the latest trends and Kentucky Derby stats from Andy on the site.