Miguel Mena

Top Kentucky Derby Jockeys – Miguel Mena

As we get closer and closer to the 2013 Kentucky Derby, we’re going to start taking a look at more than just the horses and trainers hoping to qualify for the annual Run for the Roses.

Specifically, we’re going to start looking at jockeys.

The individuals responsible for riding these horses play a vital role in the lead up to Churchill Downs on May 4. The Derby’s new points system – where stakes races increase in point value as we get closer to the big race – has put an additional emphasis on riders, which is why we’re going to take a look at one of the best in the business today.

Miguel Mena

The 26-year-old Peruvian comes by his love of horses naturally. His father, Jose, was a jockey as well, and his uncle, Humberto, was a trainer.

The youngster has already racked up a series of impressive wins in what amounts to a relatively short career. Things culminated with a stellar 2012 campaign, as Mena captured over $6 million in earnings thanks in large part to a run of three stakes wins – the Golden Rod (on Seaneen Girl), the Kentucky Jockey Club (on Uncaptured) and the River City Handicap (on Keep Up).

Mena comes by his riding skills naturally. In addition to his family ties, he trained at the famed Jorge Bemardini Yori Jockey School, a program that turned out the likes of Rafael Bejarano and Edgar Prado.

Heading into the 2013 Derby, much is expected of Mena and his horse, Uncaptured.

Uncaptured is a highly-regarded colt that’s trained by Mark Casse and owned by John Oxley. Together with Mena, the trio has taken a unique approach to Uncaptured’s Derby prep, opting to run him at Toronto’s Woodbine for most of the year.

On Saturday, Mena will be on Uncaptured in his 2013 debut at the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.

The Spiral is a huge race for Derby points – the winner will receive 50 of ‘em and essentially vault himself into the Derby field – and a huge race for Mena and Casse.

“We hoped to have had a race by now,” Casse told the Miami Herald of Uncaptured. “I had him training at Palm Meadows (Training Center in Florida) on the dirt. The main track at Ocala is all-weather, so we moved him up there so it would be easier on his feet. He’s been training on the synthetic for the last couple of months, so the Spiral seemed the best place to bring him back. He’s already won twice at Churchill on the dirt, so we know he likes it.”

If Uncaptured runs well this weekend, it’ll be interesting to see how Mena fares at the Derby. He doesn’t have a ton of experience at Churchill, but is regarded as one of the better young jockeys in the game.