Powered by victories on Royal Delta in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic and Mizdirection in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith has won the Bill Shoemaker Award as the most outstanding jockey of the 29th Breeders' Cup World Championships, held this past Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita Park.
This is the first Shoemaker Award for Smith, who became the all-time winner in Breeders' Cup victories by a jockey on Friday, when he notched his 16th win, breaking the tie for most victories he held with the retired Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey. Smith increased his win total to 17 all time when he guided home 7-1 Mizdirection on Saturday.
The 47-year-old Smith from Roswell, New Mexico, also picked up a second-place finish on Mucho Macho Man in the Breeders' Cup Classic and a third-place finish on Atigun in Friday's Marathon. Smith's 28 total points bested Garrett Gomez, a four-time Shoemaker Award winner, by two points in a 10-5-3-1 scoring system based on first through fourth-place finishes.
"I've been trying to win this award since it was first started," Smith said of the trophy started in 2003 and named in honor of the late Hall of Fame jockey. "I thought I had a shot at it last year when I won on Drosselmeyer in the Classic but Johnny (Velazquez) just beat me out. I know it's an award that Garrett, Johnny and a lot of us really want to win.
"Bill Shoemaker was to our sport what Babe Ruth was to baseball."
Gomez made the competition extremely close with his win on Beholder in the Juvenile Fillies, two second-place finishes (Grassy -- Marathon; Marketing Mix -- Filly & Mare Turf) and two third-place finishes (Switch -- Filly & Mare Sprint; Reneesgotzip -- Turf Sprint).
Previous Bill Shoemaker Award winners: