LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There are far too many great jockeys in the game right now, but if you had to pick the top four who are currently the best in the sport, here they are:
+ Victor Espinoza
Twice in the last five years, Espinoza has won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. He did it with California Chrome in 2014 and then the following year, completed the first Triple Crown since 1978 aboard American Pharoah. He has ridden in the Kentucky Derby nine times, with those three wins and a third-place finish aboard Congaree in 2001, in his first Derby. Espinoza will be aboard Bolt d'Oro in Kentucky Derby 144, his first race on the colt.
+ Kent Desormeaux
Desormeaux has had 21 chances in the Kentucky Derby. Like Espinoza, he has worn the roses three times. His first win came in 1998 on the Bob Baffert-trained Real Quiet. In 2000, he won aboard Fusaichi Pegasus and in 2008 on the unbeaten Big Brown. He also has a second-place finish on Exaggerator in 2016 and four third-place finishes. Of his 21 starts, he has finished in the top 10 a total of 16 times. He'll ride My Boy Jack this year, who, like Exaggerator was, is trained by his brother, Keith.
+ John Velazquez
Johnny V waited until his 13th Kentucky Derby to taste victory. He won on longshot Animal Kingdom in 2011. In 2017, he repeated the feat with the trainer he rides for the most, Todd Pletcher. They teamed up to win with Always Dreaming. Velazquez was second in 2001 aboard Invisible Ink. Just this year, he's ridden Audible, Vino Rosso and Noble Indy to wins in their final prep races, but he's elected to ride Wood Memorial champ Vino Rosso in the Derby.
MORE DERBY COVERAGE
+ Final Fractions Theory: Jennie Rees breaks down contenders' final Derby prep splits
+ Is points leader, 2-year-old champ good enough to spread some Good Magic?
+ 'Todd Squad' invades Churchill; Pletcher eyes Derby win No. 3
+ Mike Smith
Smith, 52, has ridden in the Kentucky Derby 23 times. His lone win came in 2005 aboard longshot Giacomo. He has finished second four times, on Prairie Bayou (1993), Proud Citizen (2002), Lion Heart (2003) and Bodemeister (2012). Smith has ridden legends like Zenyatta and Arrogate and may have another this year in Justify.
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