Hall Of Famer Mike Smith Bids For More Parx Magic With Taiba, Adare Manor

At age 57, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has no plans on slowing down.

The California-based rider works as hard as ever, running five to six miles five times a week and daily trips to his local gym. He says he is in the best shape of his life and has been saying that for several straight years.

Smith will be at Parx Racing Saturday to ride Taiba, the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the Grade 1, $1 million betPARX Pennsylvania Derby, and Adare Manor, the 7-2 second choice in the co-featured Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion Stakes.

Smith has ridden the lightly raced Taiba in three of his four starts and was on board when he finished second, beaten a head, by Cyberknife in the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park in his last start July 23. Cyberknife is the 3-1 second choice in the Pennsylvania Derby.

“He is about as talented as they come, man,” Smith said. “You know, there is still room for him to grow and get better and we are hoping this is the next step.”

Smith has won the 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby twice – both for Bob Baffert. He won with West Coast in 2017 and McKinzie in 2018. He has won the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion a record four times, the most recent with Midnight Bisou in 2018. He will ride Adare Manor for the first time in the Cotillion.

Taiba turned heads in his second career start when he won the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby.

“He was asked to do a lot early, wasn’t he?” Smith said. “From the Santa Anita Derby he went to the Kentucky Derby. You have to remember that, even though he has run in these high-profile races, he is very lightly raced. He’s still learning, He’s learning to take dirt in his face and he is maturing. He has just shown so much raw talent. He has run against the best of them.”

Smith said he plans on arriving in Pennsylvania Friday and will have dinner and spend time with his stepmother, Verna, before concentrating on Saturday’s big races.

Baffert said his horses shipped in well from California and have been supervised by his longtime assistant, Jimmy Barnes. Baffert, who will stay in California this weekend, has full trust in Barnes and Smith, who has ridden big races for him for years.

“He knows my horses,” Baffert said. “He knows Taiba very well and it’s nice when you have a rider that sort of knows the ins and outs of certain horses. He has never ridden the filly, but Mike is very good with fillies. I won’t have to say too much. When you have a top rider, you don’t need to say too much to them.”

The post Hall Of Famer Mike Smith Bids For More Parx Magic With Taiba, Adare Manor appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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