Rafael Bejarano

Top Kentucky Derby Jockeys – Rafael Bejarano

Here’s a look at a number of those who saddle up come race day: the jockeys.

Rafael Bejarano is a Peruvian rider with more than 2,900 wins over the course of his storied career.


His pro career began in 1999, after a stint at the Peruvian national riding school.  Bejarano, 30, moved to North America in 2002.

Bejarano models himself after another famous Peruvian rider – Edgar Prado, the US Racing Hall of Fame jockey who famously rode Barbaro to victory in the 132nd Kentucky Derby in 2006.

Prado also captured the 2002 and 2004 Belmont Stakes. So yes, there are worse people to emulate.

“He was a good friend for me, he has a good personality and he’s very humble with people,” Bejarano said of Prado on his personal website. “I try to follow his example. He was my mentor when I came here, and he’s always been my friend.

“I was very happy to hear he was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.”

Triple Crown History

For all the success Bejarano’s had in his career, he hasn’t been a tremendous performer in Triple Crown races. His best results have come at the Belmont Stakes, where he finished second with Andromeda’s Hero in 2005 and third in 2006 while riding Sunriver.

His results at the Derby have been mediocre at best. The lone highlight was finishing eighth on Andromeda the same year he placed second at Belmont.


Bejarano is in with Todd Pletcher, who’s had a stable of great performers in races in 2012 and 2013. One of which is Overanalyze, who has been riding strong with Bejarano.

The two won the Arkansas Derby in style, dominating the field so much so that Bejerano let up near the end of the race to “save some horse,” as he put it.

“This is my (Kentucky) Derby horse, I’m pretty sure,” Bejerano told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I had a beautiful trip. Once we got to the stretch, I felt like I had a lot of horse left and saved something for the next race.”

The Future

Bejarano’s career won’t fully be complete until he achieves some serious success in the Triple Crown. He’s done well to align himself with Pletcher and, specifically, Overanalyze, who has been running fantastically well in the prep races and seems like a force to be reckoned with.

The way he’s been talking lately, Bejarano sounds like an extremely confident jockey – and he should be. He has nearly 3,000 career wins and has hauled in a truckload of winnings over the course of his 10-year career.