Updated on 09/15/2011 1:39PM

It was a big year for unsung 'bugs'

Delaware Park
Apprentice Jeremy Rose has 297 wins to his credit through Dec. 20.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - A quick glance at his statistics shows why Jeremy Rose would be a deserving winner of the Eclipse award for the top apprentice jockey of 2001. His 297 wins through Dec. 20 tower above the 196 accumulated by Rex Stokes III, his closest competitor. And his $6,386,446 earnings from those races are almost 1 1/2 times larger than the $4,303,913 earned by the mounts of Julian Pimentel, second-best in that category.

With those numbers in mind, I will cast my vote for Rose. But it would be unfair to overlook the accomplishments of some of the other apprentice riders.

Kris Prather is a good example. She won with 26 percent of her 497 mounts this year, but was hindered by injuries. That number is considerably higher than Rose's 20 percent wins. Prather still managed to finish sixth on the year with 130 victories.

Pimentel, fourth in total wins, has racked up 14 more victories than Prather, but has ridden 517 more races than she did. Kendrick Carmouche, fifth in the standings, has ridden 13 more winners than Prather. But he has had a total of 1,019 opportunities, 522 more than Prather. How many winners would Prather have ridden if she had been healthy throughout the year?

You might guess that a man with a name like Rex A. Stokes III would spend most of his days riding around town in a Rolls Royce driven by his trusty chauffeur. But it turns out that Stokes spends his days chauffeuring horses around tracks in Ohio. How does he match up with Rose? His 18 percent win rate is only 2 percentage points lower. But the interesting angle on Stokes is that his success was achieved while riding mounts that weren't as well bet as those ridden by Rose. I couldn't dig up stats on average odds per starter beginning with Jan. 1, 2001, but numbers provided by Bob Selvin and his statistical service Turfday covering Dec. 13, 2000, through Dec. 12, 2001, are close enough. During that period the average odds on each of Rose's mounts was 8-1, and his average winner paid 7-2. It was more of an uphill struggle for Stokes, whose horse were sent to the post at an average of 12-1, and whose winners paid an average of 6-1.

His 18 percent winners with horses returning an average of $14 works out to a healthy $2.52 return on each $2 wagered, for a profit of 26 percent. Stokes might not own a Rolls Royce, but bettors who played all of his mounts this year might be shopping for one for Christmas.

Making a case for Sakhee

Every handicapper should be entitled to at least one politically incorrect opinion. Mine is that Sakhee is not getting the respect he deserves in relation to Tiznow. I'm fully aware that Tiznow beat Sakhee by a couple of inches in the Breeders' Cup Classic. But shouldn't the journey from France to the U.S. count for something, probably more than the slim margin by which he lost?

If that isn't enough of a disadvantage to suit you, please also remember that Sakhee was playing Tiznow's game by running on the dirt, which is certainly not Sakhee's favorite surface. By way of comparison, how do you think Tiznow might have fared if he had traveled to France to compete against Sakhee on the turf? I would like to think that Sakhee would have beaten Tiznow by many lengths. If not, the margin would probably still figure to be at least something greater than the precious few inches Tiznow prevailed by when he had everything his own way.

Sakhee also rates the edge over Tiznow on the basis of consistency. He didn't run a bad race in 2001. The same cannot be said about Tiznow, who this year finished behind Wooden Phone, Lido Palace, Albert the Great, Freedom Crest, and Skimming.

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