The Most Popular Jockeys of All Time

Since the earliest civilizations, humans have engaged in the sport of horse racing. The history of the game can be traced back to Ancient Egypt and Greece. Throughout history, the sport remained massively popular, reaching its peak in Victorian England, during the 1800s.

During this time, the sport began seeing international appeal. From England it spread to the United States, France, and the rest of Europe, and even more broadly throughout Asia. This was also the time, when horse race betting became a huge form of entertainment within the hobby itself.

Today, wagering on horse races is not as popular as it once was. The coming of the big team sports has dwarfed horse racing’s popularity. Football and basketball certainly dominate the scene. However, if we take a look at websites like, we can see that the sport’s popularity is still quite great.

Fans of the sport, and even some non-fans, are familiar with some of the greatest horses that have ever raced the track. The Secretariat is one of the most popular athletes of the 20th century. But what is known about the people that ride these horses. In this article, we are taking a look at some of the most popular jockeys throughout history.

Bill Shoemaker

Perhaps one of the most popular jockeys in history, Bill Shoemaker is considered, by many, to be the greatest rider that the tracks have ever seen in the modern age. Born in America, Shoemaker won close to a dozen US Triple Crowns. Of these victories, four were at the Kentucky Derby (America’s premium horse racing event), two were at the Preakness Stakes, and the remaining five were at the Belmont Stakes.

Upon retiring from the tracks, Bill Shoemaker became a trainer. In his time as a trainer, Bill was known as one of the best trainers in the game. He managed to draw 90 victories out of over 700 starters.

Shoemaker passed away peacefully, of natural causes at his home in 2003, and left behind a truly noteworthy legacy.

John R. Velazquez

Hailing from Puerto Rico, John R. Velazquez moved to America in 1990, where he learned English by repeatedly watching the film The Little Mermaid. He is best known as the winner of fifteen Breeders’ Cups and six Triple Crowns. These achievements have earned him two Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Jockey; one of the most prestigious awards in the world of horse racing today. In 2004 and 2005, he was also named the top US Jockey by earnings, a moniker he certainly deserves, as he is among the greatest athletes in the past half-a-century.

Frankie Dettori

While his birth nation is Italy, Mr. Dettori spent the bulk of his career racing in the United Kingdom. Over the years, he has managed to rack up over 3000 career wins, and his outstanding achievement as Champion Jockey on three separate occasions. In 1996, Dettori saw the biggest achievement in his already admirable career, when he rode all seven champion winners during British Champions’ Day at the Ascot. Certainly, this earns him the title as one of the greats in the sport.