01/08/2014 12:26PM

2013 Eclipse Awards: Joel Rosario

photo by: Tom Keyser

In the span of five weeks last spring, jockey Joel Rosario accomplished more than most riders will achieve in their entire careers. He won the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 30 and took the Kentucky Derby on May 4. For good measure, Rosario set a record for wins during the spring meet at Keeneland in a trail of success that has made him an Eclipse Award finalist for North America’s outstanding jockey of 2013.

Rosario, 29, was humble about the feats when discussing his spring with Daily Racing Form.

“It’s good horses,” he said. “The key is the horse. Ride better horses, you have a good chance in the race.”

The chances of Orb and Rosario in the Kentucky Derby looked dismal at one point, when they found themselves more than 18 lengths off the pace in the slop. Rosario did not panic.

“I was so far behind I said, ‘I think they’re going fast,’ ” he said. “I just wanted to make him happy, not let him get too aggressive. He was available to do it all. When I passed the last horse, all I’m thinking is he could pull himself up, so I got after him a little bit and kept him together, but he was much the best.”

Orb won by 2 1/2 lengths, giving Rosario his first win in the Kentucky Derby. In the Dubai World Cup, the rider partnered with Animal Kingdom. Rosario missed some of the second half of the year with a foot injury but managed to rank second in North American mount earnings in 2013, with $21,585,941. Rosario also was fourth in wins, with 275, and ranked second in graded stakes victories, with 30.