Some years, the Eclipse Awards do not require a lot of research as some horse or person is far ahead of everyone else. We know the Horse of the Year vote will be closer than normal between Triple Crown winner Justify versus Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Accelerate. But the human categories look just as tough this year. Let’s take a look at the Eclipse Award for jockeys. Javier Castellano was the winner four years in a row from 2013 through 2016. Last year, Jose Ortiz broke through with his first title and this year looks wide open. Mike Smith has not won an Eclipse Award since 1994 and he is in the conversation this year with his rides aboard Justify and Abel Tasman. However, as of last Sunday, Smith only had 235 mounts this year – 91 in graded stakes, and there probably is not enough quantity to go along with the obvious quality of his work this year. Defending champion Jose Ortiz is second in the money earned race with $26,355,249, just behind older brother Irad Ortiz Jr.’s nation-leading $27,111,347. Castellano is third with $21,974,025 with Florent Geroux and Joel Rosario the only other riders with earnings over $20 million for the year. In total wins, Irad Ortiz Jr. has 329 wins, Jose Ortiz has 254 and Tyler Gaffalione has 244. Of the top 10 riders based on earnings, Ortiz Jr.’s 21% is the highest. However, in graded stakes, Jose Ortiz leads with 35 wins while brother Irad has 30, Flavien Prat has 26 graded wins and Joel Rosario has 23. Grade 1 races provide some added, but different, insight. It is no surprise that Mike Smith has the most Grade 1 wins in 2018 (12). Of the 12, there were six different horses he rode to Grade 1 success. Joel Rosario had 10 Grade 1 wins from seven different horses. What really sticks out is that Jose Ortiz had 10 Grade 1 wins from 10 different horses. Florent Geroux had eight Grade 1 wins from four different horses and Johnny Velazquez had eight Grade 1 wins from six different horses. So, let’s see if we can put this year’s jockeys on a grid and try to make sense of 2018. Money Won

  1. Irad Ortiz Jr.
  2. Jose Ortiz
  3. Javier Castellano
  4. Florent Geroux
  5. Joel Rosario
 Total Wins
  1. Irad Ortiz Jr.
  2. Jose Ortiz
  3. Tyler Gaffalione
  4. Manny Franco
  5. Luis Saez / Eurico Rosa da Silva
Graded Wins
  1. Jose Ortiz
  2. Irad Ortiz Jr.
  3. Flavien Prat
  4. Joel Rosario
  5. Florent Geroux / Javier Castellano
Grade 1 Wins
  1. Mike Smith
  2. Jose Ortiz
  3. Joel Rosario
  4. Johnny Velazquez
  5. Florent Geroux
Grade 1 Winners
  1. Jose Ortiz
  2. Joel Rosario
  3. Irad Ortiz Jr.
  4. Mike Smith
  5. Johnny Velazquez
When you glance at this year’s jockeys on the grid, the Eclipse Award winner will be named Ortiz. I am leaning (there are still some big races to be run in 2018) toward Jose Ortiz again this year since he’s second in money won and total money earned in addition to having the most graded wins and the most Grade 1 winners. Irad Ortiz Jr. comes up a short with graded wins, Grade 1 wins and Grade 1 winners, which is surprising since he is viewed as trainer Chad Brown’s “Go-To” rider.