Mike Smith, the Hall of Fame rider who has handled scores of top horses and won hundreds of major races over a 36-year career, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award.
Smith, who will turn 52 Aug. 10, is the 14th winner of the Pincay Award, given by the Hall of Fame jockey it is named for to those who have served the sport of horse racing "with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination, and distinction."
The honor and its trophy will be presented to Smith by Pincay Aug. 20 between races at Del Mar, following a salute to the rider the night before at Del Mar Plaza that will serve as a fundraiser for the Winners Foundation, which for more than 30 years has aided those in racing adversely affected by substance abuse and/or mental health issues.
"When we started this award back in 2004, Mike Smith was absolutely the sort of person we had in mind as one of our winners," Pincay said. "I only got to ride against him briefly out here, but I've followed his career over the years and he's been a model of consistency, class, and pure athletic ability. He's a star in all senses of the word and it is an honor to honor him."
Pincay retired in 2003 as the winningest rider in U.S. history with 9,530 victories (now second best). Smith, who made his mark primarily in the East early on, first rode regularly on the West Coast in 2001.
"It is a privilege and a delight for someone like me to be given an award like this, from a man like Laffit," Smith said. "And for it to be tied into a fundraising event for a wonderful organization like Winners Foundation that does so much good for the people in our game—that just makes it all the more special."
Smith, a two-time Eclipse Award winner as the nation's leading jockey, is currently the second-leading jockey for purses won with more than $300 million on his ledger to go along with more than 5,400 winners. He has won more than 500 graded stakes, has a record 25 Breeders' Cup victories, and has won all of the Triple Crown races.
Smith is a workout warrior who maintains a fitness edge that allows him to compete with younger riders. He continues to draw some of the top riding assignments in the country with superstars like Arrogate and champion filly Songbird.
Pincay rode for 39 seasons, with 27 of them at Del Mar, where he is still the leading rider with 1,011 victories. The Panamanian native earned five Eclipse Awards as the nation's top rider and led the country in earnings seven times. Now 70 years old, he lives in Arcadia, Calif., near Santa Anita Park.