May 10, 2021

2017 Jockey ROI Awards

Eclipse Awards voters should have received their packets by now, and as they consider the on-track accomplishments of horses, trainers, jockeys, owners, and breeders at the highest level of the sport, I wanted to take time to recognize the jockeys who provided positive results for the bettor all year long, every day (this idea inspired by Dave Tuley and Doug Salvatore).


Through December 18, 79 jockeys have ridden in at least 750 races this year, and only 3—Rafael Hernandez, Tommy Pompell, and Mychel Sanchez—sport a positive ROI from all starters.

I’m giving the award to Pompell, whose 99 winners brought up mutuel payoffs of $1,675.40 for a 8.93% ROI on 769 starters. This is slightly better than Sanchez’s 116/770 mark with a 5.06% ROI and significantly better than Hernandez’s 0.31% ROI on 163 wins from 927 starts.

Honorable mentions in the overall category go to a couple of Woodbine jockeys: Luis Contreras (pictured above winning the Queen’s Plate aboard Holy Helena) is one of 21 with at least 1,000 mounts this year and the only one with an ROI better than -5% (he’s at -1.16% with 221 wins from 1,090 mounts). Da Silva ranks third behind Hernandez and Contreras among jockeys with at least 800 mounts.


There have been 126 jockeys so far this year with at least 100 mounts on a favorite, and only two—Contreras and Dean Sarvis—have a positive ROI with Contreras going 102-for-238 with a +10.6% mark on the chalk.

When it comes to odds on chalk the complexion changes a bit with 154 jockeys having at least 25 starts on an odds-on favorite, and 15 of them sporting a positive ROI, including Patrick Husbands (22/33 +11.5%), Joel Rosario (19/29 +11.0%), and Jomar Torres (24/34 +10.2%). Though not positive, Ramon Vazquez merits mention here for having 130 odds-on mounts and netting a -3.4% ROI from 81 wins—that’s much the best among the 15 jockeys with at least 75 mounts in this category.


There were 130 different jockeys who rode at least one $100 winner this year, but only two of them—Carlos Montalvo and Luis Reyes—managed three such wins, and the top mark here goes to Carlos Montalvo, who was 3-for-32 in the category with a robust +580% ROI. Fifteen more jockeys had two $100+ winners with Johan Rosado earning that double from just 10 mounts.

Some familiar names can be counted on to beat the chalk, too, as Montalvo was 36-for-368 on non favorites with a +54.1% ROI, tops among the 295 jockeys with at least 350 mounts on non favorites. Ferrer is 58/393 +23.4%.


Eighty jockeys have ridden in at least 200 turf races with Luis Contreras putting up the biggest numbers: 58-for-238 and a +29.7% ROI. His aforementioned Woodbine colleague Da Silva is right there with him at 52-for-211 and +14.8%.

Corey Lanerie deserves a mention here as well. Of the 26 jockeys with at least 325 mounts he’s the only one with a positive ROI (65/402 +1.2%)

Distance Specialists

There aren’t many races (on either surface) going longer than 1 1/8 miles, but 28 jockeys managed to ride in at least 25 such races (any surface) with Jose Ortiz making the most of it at 23-for-90 with a +32% ROI. Three others are in the positive column on this filter as well: Michael Mitchell (9/42 +38.8%), Julian Leparoux (11/58 +7.7%), and Javier Castellano (18/79 +4.9%).


The unquestionable star of this category is Rajiv Marah, one of 38 jockeys with at least 50 starts on a one-turn dirt (or synthetic) mile but one of only three with a positive ROI (20/93 +21%). The others are Aby Medina (10/54 +13.1%) and Feargal Lynch (21/82 +7.2%).

Jockeys who do not excel at this configuration are Jenn Miller (0/34), Jack Gilligan (0/27), and Raul Mena (1/38).