Every jockey at Saratoga Race Course strives to be like Angel Cordero Jr.
The legendary jockey won 14 riding titles during his illustrious career at the upstate New York track, including a staggering 11 in a row.
Cordero said there wasn't much of a trick to accomplishing that feat, though.
Work hard and ride good horses, he said. "They are the ones who run. You can only ride them."
Getting those prized mounts isn't easy, though. A jockey has to be willing to show a trainer that he willing to work hard with a horse in order to earn the ride, no matter if he is a past riding champion or a relative newcomer. Even then, a jockey may be passed over because someone else who is having a better meet is suddenly available to ride.
"To get on the good horses, it's always been my belief in my 25 years of riding that you come out and work hard in the mornings and work horses out. You see the people and you show them how conscientious and what a good work ethic you have," said veteran jockey Richard Migliore. "But that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Now it seems like if you're popular or your agent's got the right connections or you're the new face, then you're going to get the mounts."
Migliore is a case study in how even a big-name jockey can struggle to find a good mount at Saratoga. Migliore has only had 31 mounts through the first 10 days of the meet and has reached the winner's circle once.
"I'm coming back off of a 5-month injury (a broken left leg), so of course you're in a rebuilding process to begin with, and my outfits haven't been winning," said Migliore. "So, the guys that are loyal to me " like Mike Hushion, and Barclay Tagg's been giving me a good play, and Allen Jerkins' been riding me on some horses " really haven't gotten off to fast starts at the meet. They're good horsemen, they've got quality horses. It won't stay that way, but until they start picking up, I'm not going to pick up either."