Sunday, May 20, 2018
Sports

Jockey Krigger to make Kentucky Derby debut on Goldencents

Kevin Krigger has spent most of his life looking for rides.

As a boy on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Krigger would attempt to get a lift to the local horse track from a friendly driver. If that failed, Krigger said, he would walk two hours just to watch the races.

As an adult at tracks in Ohio, West Virginia, Washington and elsewhere, Krigger has been on a 12-year mission to convince trainers to let him be their jockey. Life isn't easy for a journeyman rider nearing 30, particularly one with a light resume. That's why Krigger is smiling so much these days.

He will ride in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday for the first time, and not on some plodding long shot. Krigger will be aboard Goldencents, the 5-1 third favorite trained by Doug O'Neill, last year's Derby winner.

"I just want May 4 to come so I can get this Derby win under my belt," Krigger said. "I feel like I'm on the winning horse. There's not another horse I wish I was on instead."

Krigger, 29, is among the few black jockeys in the profession. The first Kentucky Derby, in 1875, had 15 horses, and 13 had black jockeys. Segregation laws steadily drove black jockeys from the track, and by the early 20th century they had become scarce. They never really have returned.

Krigger's locker at Santa Anita in California includes a picture of Jimmy Winkfield, the last black jockey to win the Derby (in 1902), and Krigger is the race's first black jockey since Marlon St. Julien in 2000.

"I don't dream about riding in the Kentucky Derby," Krigger said. "I dream about winning the Kentucky Derby."

Two months ago, only die-hard railbirds had heard of Krigger. But he has been aboard Goldencents for all six of the horse's races, including four wins. When the colt won the Santa Anita Derby last month and qualified for the Kentucky Derby, O'Neill didn't give a thought to replacing Krigger with a jockey who had Kentucky Derby experience.

"It takes a lot of hard work and self-confidence to take an opportunity and run with it," O'Neill said. "He was just so ready, so prepared for this opportunity, and we're seeing the results of it."

Krigger started riding professionally as a teenager, and seeing an opportunity for a career, he moved to Ohio at 17. A couple of years later, Krigger had an apprenticeship at Southern California tracks, but it led to only modest success and not enough interest from trainers, so Krigger set out to prove himself.

After bouncing around the country, he had success in Seattle in 2011, then more during a stint at Golden Gate Fields in the San Francisco Bay area. That's where respected jockey agent Tom Knust found him.

"I've been around the track for 45 years," Knust said. "I've never known anybody like Kevin. He's a hard worker and a good family man (Krigger and his fiancee, Taisha, have four kids; the oldest is 12). And he's talented. He has a lot of ability. He gets horses to relax for him."

Knust brought Krigger back to Southern California last year, and that's when the legwork started. Krigger would walk the barn area in the morning, when horses train, and offer his services.

O'Neill said he and the workers at his barn "fell in love" with Krigger because of the jockey's attitude and persistence. One morning, O'Neill did have work for Krigger, as the exercise rider for Goldencents, who had not run a race.

On Sept. 2, 2012, Goldencents debuted, with Krigger aboard.

Comments
Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Playing .500 ball is obviously no goal, and the Rays certainly know that.But given where they came from, that terrible 1-8 start that oozed into 3-12 and 4-13, climbing back to the respectability of .500 would be an accomplish...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The first part of the Rays' new and unusual pitching plan worked so well Saturday, as game "opener" RHP Sergio Romo struck out the first three Angels hitters, that the Rays will do it again on Sunday.That's right. Romo will st...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

TAMPA — A two-goal lead was suddenly only one, and the Washington Capitals, having pulled their goalie, had a furious 96-second siege.Andrei Vasilevskiy made the last three of his 28 saves to preserve the Lightning's 3-2 victory Saturday in Gam...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

TAMPA — Dan Girardi knew where the puck was heading. It was heading to Alex Ovechkin for a one-timer on net, so Girardi did the only thing he could do. He blocked it.With his rump."It hit me right in the cheek," said Girardi, the Lightning defe...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Faster than Justify down the stretch at the Preakness, quicker than Harry and Meghan walked down the aisle at Windsor Castle, the Lightning jumped on Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final. No runaway gallop. No funny hats. Just ho...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: How Ryan Callahan and his linemates overwhelmed the Caps

Lightning-Capitals: How Ryan Callahan and his linemates overwhelmed the Caps

TAMPA — They're called grinders. Pluggers. Checkers.They're lunch-pail guys. Like 9-to-5ers. They get up every day and go to work. They punch in and punch out for no glory or credit. But the business would fall apart without them.They're the fo...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Justify wins foggy Preakness, keeps Triple Crown bid alive

Justify wins foggy Preakness, keeps Triple Crown bid alive

BALTIMORE — Justify rounded the final turn and hit the top of the stretch winded but with the lead. The roar from the crowd was delayed, hushed by the thick fog that enveloped the track. When Justify emerged from the haze in view of the grandstand, t...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Quick strike, but not the quickest ever

Lightning-Capitals: Quick strike, but not the quickest ever

TAMPA — Cedric Paquette needed only 19 seconds to put the Lightning on the scoreboard Saturday night, coming up with the second-fastest playoff goal in franchise history.The only goal faster? Tampa Bay's Adam Hall needed only 13 seconds to scor...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Rowdies tie in debut of new coach Neill Collins

St. PETERSBURG — Neill Collins, the former Rowdies defender who this week abruptly replaced Stuart Campbell as coach of the team, was a bit ambivalent about his debut, but he sure liked the way his club played in the second half of Saturda...
Updated: 9 hours ago
USF softball team’s season ends in Gainesville

USF softball team’s season ends in Gainesville

The USF softball team's season ended late Saturday in the Gainesville Regional with a 3-2 loss to Ohio State, its second NCAA Tournament loss to the Buckeyes in as many days.OSU (36-15) must defeat No. 2 overall national seed Florida (52-8) twice Sun...
Updated: 9 hours ago