Call Shaun Bridgmohan the strong, silent type. This 28-year-old rider keeps a relatively low profile in the jockeys' room and could be overshadowed by his more flamboyant fellow riders. But his exceedingly professional approach has been the foundation for a highly successful partnership with trainer Steve Asmussen, for whom Bridgmohan will ride Pyro in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Asmussen is known for his somewhat volatile temperament, which pairs perfectly with Bridgmohan's icy-cool demeanor. As the trainer told Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Jennie Rees, "It isn't simply following instructions. It's information. It's feedback. It's understanding the bigger picture."
And Bridgmohan definitely possesses those traits, along with an uncanny knack for handicapping. His ability brought him an Eclipse Award as the outstanding apprentice of 1998 after he got his first win at Calder the season before, and he went on to develop a career as a journeyman that included grade I scores in the Garden City Handicap aboard Alexander Tango, the Forego Handicap aboard Midnight Lute, and back-to-back wins in the 2000 and ’01 editions of the Carter Handicap on Brutally Frank and Peeping Tom, respectively.
This year's Derby is Bridgmohan's third—he finished 12th aboard Zanjero last year and was 15th on Private Vow in 2006.
Career wins: 1,704
Born: June 24, 1979, in Spanish Town, Jamaica
Residence: Oldham County, Ky.
Family: Sons Alexander and Steve; younger brother Jermaine is also a jockey
Favorite sport: “Football, and I like soccer, too.”
Favorite food: Seafood
Most hated chore: “I don’t do that much, so I don’t have one.”
I can’t live without: “I don’t know; I can live without my cell phone, so I don’t really have a clue.”
The fastest I’ve ever driven was: “120 miles per hour, because I was late to get to Delaware one day from New York, and I’d been stuck in traffic.”
If I could trade careers with one pro athlete, I would: “Play basketball and be Michael Jordan.”
Another active rider I admire is: “John Velazquez. He’s a pretty good rider.”
One thing I wish people knew about jockeys: “I don’t know.”
The best part about winning the Derby this year would be: “Dedicating the race to my dad, Gerald Bridgmohan. He got me started in horse racing, and he’s been a big influence in my career. This has always been his dream, and I’m getting to follow it. He’s the one I’d win it for.”