While digging around my computer looking for notes, memories, nuggets about the Belmont Stakes – from Silver Charm, my first, to Smarty Jones, the worst, to American Pharoah, the best, I found my favorite quote about Mike Smith.
It's from fellow Hall of Famer John Velazquez. The duo have combined to win 11,387 races, $697,761,818 and win pretty much every big race there is to win. They've done it all – very differently.
Velazquez doesn't try to be Smith. The Puerto Rico native knows he can't emulate the New Mexico native, so he doesn't even try.
"Mike has this thing about the rhythm, he always talk about it," Velazquez said five years ago. "That’s his natural ability, I have to work at it, I have to look at the competition, work on the race, see how it’s going to go. It’s important to get a horse into a rhythm, but it doesn’t come that easy for me, I have to work at it. Mike is more natural than me, he gets the horse forward in a nice rhythm, it works for him, works incredible for him, that’s the natural ability some people have and some people don’t have. I can’t just think about getting into a good rhythm and going from there. It works for Mike, because he’s very natural, very comfortable. It doesn’t work for me. He makes it look so much easier than it is, I’ve tried it, it doesn’t happen."
• One runner Thursday, Ebullience at Delaware Park, going for the Willowdale/Delaware double.