Top Jockeys to Watch in the USA in 2022

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Three jockeys on their horses racing on a track.
BetMGM @BETMGM Feb 10, 2022, 10:45 PM

The 2022 horse racing season is just about in full swing, and as always, there are some tantalizing horse racing tournaments to look forward to this year. If you’re partial to a bit of online sports betting, then you’ll know it’s not just the racehorses that you should follow when placing your NYRA bets. The jockeys riding the horses are of huge importance in their performance too, so it’s essential to know who is racing a horse before you bet on horse racing.

There have been some incredible jockeys throughout the years, but today, we’re going to look at the best United States-based jockeys to keep an eye out for in 2022.

Irad Ortiz Jr.

Irad Ortiz Jr. is a Puerto Rican jockey who has risen through the ranks steadily for some time, but he has truly exploded onto the scene in the last few years. In the 2019 Breeder’s Cup, he rode four winners; the highlight was his win on Vino Rosso in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Ortiz comes from a family of great riders, with his uncle and father both being respected jockeys, and his brother Jose Ortiz also plying his trade at the highest level. His first American Classic came on Creator in the 2016 Belmont Stakes, organized by NYRA racing. He took a break after his three victories on the December 5 Clasico Internacional del Caribe program at Camarero Racetrack in Puerto Rico, as he was suspended for careless riding at the end of last year. However, he came back with a bang and registered back-to-back wins at Gulfstream Park on January 6 this year.

José Ortiz

José L. Ortiz (born October 2, 1993) is a Puerto Rican jockey (brother of Irad Ortiz Jr.), and he has been a professional on the New York Thoroughbred horse racing circuit since 2012. He won his first Breeders’ Cup in 2016 and finished the season off as the leading jockey by number of wins in North America. 2017 saw him awarded the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey as the leading earner. He also won the 2017 Belmont Stakes to get his first Triple Crown race victory. Ortiz was also the victor at the 2019 Kentucky Oaks. He finished 2021 as the fourth-highest earner and big things are expected from the young jockey in 2022.

Flavien Prat

Prat entered the professional arena in the US in 2015, and he has been steadily rising through the ranks ever since. He has been in the top 11 when it comes to prize money every year since he started, and in 2021, he finished the year in fifth. His biggest win so far was undoubtedly the 2019 Kentucky Derby aboard longshot Country House. He looked to have placed second, but after passing the post first, Maximum Security was disqualified for causing interference. Flavien Prat only turns 30 mid-way through 2022, and he will undoubtedly have a big year and improve even more.

Joel Rosario

Over the last decade, Rosario has been among the top six jockeys in terms of prize-money winners in the United States. Rosario brings consistency to his races and this has led to some top prizes. He also has the uncanny ability to get his horses up to a high cruising speed before he asks them to go for their maximum effort. It’s not just on US soil that Rosario has been successful either, as he’s also won a Dubai World Cup and has a Royal Ascot victory to his name. At home, he has had numerous successes in the Breeders’ Cup races and the Kentucky Derby. 2022 is set to be a big year for the Dominican jockey.

Luiz Saez

Panama-born Luiz Saez is one of the names on everyone’s lips going into the 2022 season, and the horse betting odds on numerous horse racing betting websites favor him heavily this year. He got his first US win aboard Fearless Honor at the Calder Race Track in 2009. In 2013, he scored his first Grade I win in the Travers Stakes aboard Will Take Charge. He also won the Pennsylvania Derby and Clark Handicap that year. 

In 2018, Saez tied a Gulfstream Park record when he rode seven winners on a single card on January 24. He went on to record his 2,000th win later that year at Aqueduct. Saez had a stunning year in 2019 when he partnered with Maximum Security with wins in the Florida Derby, Clark Handicap and Haskell Invitational. Saez was banned for 15 days and controversially disqualified after their win in the Kentucky Derby when Maximum Security swerved on the track. He then partnered up with Essential Quality in 2020, on which he had wins in the Breeders’ Futurity and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. In 2021, the two went on to win the Blue Grass and their first Triple Crown race at the Belmont Stakes. Saez has got a massive year ahead of him and there’s no doubt that he will be somewhere at the top.

Bet on horse racing with BetMGM

Now that you know which jockeys are vying for top honors, you’re one step closer to placing the best bet! If you’re wondering “how do you bet on horse racing?” at BetMGM, then we’ve got good news for you! All you have to do is register with BetMGM, create an account and head over to the horse racing section to bet on the world’s best races.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.