Mike Smith has a plaque in the Hall of Fame. He’s made plenty of money. He’s won classics. He’s won more Breeders’ Cup races than any jockey in history. He’s 48, accomplished everything there is to accomplish in the sport, but still he drives forward.
Six days a week, Smith jogs three miles to his local gym, rides a bicycle for 30 minutes, then works out with his personal trainer for an hour. After that, he rides races, “That’s the fun part.” Why? Why is he still motivated?
To do it all over again. It’s like anything, when you taste it for the first time, you realize how good it is and you want more. I just enjoy the big days, it’s incredible. There’s nothing like it. It’s everything – the people, the horses, the competition, the quality, it’s second to none.
I don’t want to start going backwards and end up where I started. I want to end up where I ended up, if that makes sense. Right now, we’re able to do it at the highest of levels and we’re having a whole lot of fun doing it. Maybe it’s because we’ve already accomplished things, but I’m having so much more fun now, I appreciate it more now, so much more, it’s crazy. You look at things differently as you get older. You realize how important this stuff is, when you’re young you think, ‘it’ll come around next year.’ It’s hard to get there to start with, then to stay there is extremely hard, you learn to really appreciate it as time goes on.
Read about Smith chopping cotton, breaking his back and who he thanks when he stands up at the wire at Jockey Journal 3.