Ramon Dominguez

Top Kentucky Derby Jockeys – Ramon Dominguez

He’s bound to win the big one eventually. Ramon Dominguez is the consensus No. 1 jockey in North America, the Eclipse Award winner in 2010 and 2011, and thoroughbred racing’s top money earner each of the past three years. In 2012, Dominguez hauled in over $25 million in purse money, winning 341 of his nearly 1,400 races. Still, he didn’t win the Kentucky Derby. He never has.

His turn will come – but it had better come soon. Dominguez was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1976, and is already becoming one of the elder statesmen in his sport at age 36. He fell in love with horses as a kid when his father, who ran an off-track betting site, took him to the local La Rinconada racecourse. Dominguez started with show jumping, and then switched to flat racing at age 18, developing the unusual racing style you see today.

By 1998, Dominguez had worked his way up to Hialeah Park Race Track in Florida. Dominguez was an “instant” success; he won nearly $600,000 in just under 400 starts as a rookie, working from Florida to Maryland and finally to New York, where he is based today. Dominguez topped $1 million in earnings as a sophomore and $10 million just four years later in 2001.

Along the way, Dominguez has ridden in the Kentucky Derby nine times. His best result was in 2006 aboard Bluegrass Cat, but they had to settle for second place behind the great Barbaro. That was one of four Todd Pletcher horses Dominguez has raced at the Kentucky Derby; last year, it was Michael Maker providing the ride as Dominguez steered Hansen to ninth place behind I’ll Have Another.

In 2013, it looks like Pletcher has another potential Kentucky Derby winner for Dominguez. Overanalyze was the winner at the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, beating Normandy Invasion over nine furlongs on the dirt oval at Aqueduct. As usual, Pletcher has a number of leading horses and jockeys lined up for Churchill Downs this year, so we might see Dominguez atop someone else before all is said and done.