10/25/2017 11:50AM

Spieth, still going strong at 50, wins Delaware Park riding title

Tom Keyser
Jockey Scott Spieth won his first riding title in 10 years when he topped the standings at the conclusion of this summer's Delaware Park meet.

Jockey Scott Spieth’s march toward career win 5,000 went extremely well this summer at Delaware Park and resulted in his first riding title in 10 years. He now has 4,628 victories, and at age 50 has been outperforming jockeys half his age.

“I’ll definitely get past 5,000,” Spieth said. “I’ve been fortunate to have had very few injuries and am in great shape. I feel good.”

Tuesday was a rainy morning at Delaware Park but, as usual, Spieth was out galloping horses.

“People were saying to me, ‘Weren’t you just leading rider?’ And I told them, ‘That was yesterday,’ ” he said.

Spieth, a native of Michigan, started at Detroit Race Course in 1986 and rode there until the track closed in 1998. He moved on to Thistledown and for many years doubled up at Mountaineer at night.

Thistledown used to split its live season into four meets. In 2006, Spieth was leading rider at all of them. In 2005, he won three of the four. His Delaware title is his first since 2007, when he won the Cranwood and Thistledown meets.

This year, Spieth rode 56 winners at Delaware to defeat Carol Cedeno by three. Cedeno had won the last three Delaware titles.

Delaware closes out many of its cards with an Arabian race, which the track counts when determining its leading jockey. Spieth went 5 for 30 in Arabian races. Cedeno was 10 for 32. In the end, his Arabian wins made the difference.

Delaware is a highly competitive meet because of its Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday schedule. Although all the major Mid-Atlantic tracks race Saturday, some are closed on Delaware’s other three days and jockeys come in from all directions.

“It takes a lot of work to do well here,” Spieth said. “There are a lot of riders shipping in every day. It’s a very competitive group.”

This is Spieth’s third year at Delaware. He and his agent, John Weilbacher, won the title the hard way.

“I didn’t ride for any of the larger stables,” Spieth said. “We rode for a lot of the smaller outfits, and it turned out great.

“We’re hard workers. We’re there every morning. We take care of our business and try to be fair with everyone.”

Spieth will stay in the region the next few weeks before he and his fiancée, trainer Aldana Gonzalez, head to Tampa Bay Downs for the winter. Spieth will make a pit stop at Del Mar next week to ride Laur Net in the Grade 2 Goldikova on Breeders’ Cup Saturday.

Spieth won the restricted George Rosenberger Memorial at Delaware on Laur Net for Gonzalez on Sept. 30. Owner Ron Paolucci, whom Spieth first met at Thistledown, has since shipped Laur Net to trainer Bob Hess Jr. at Santa Anita to prepare for the race.

The Goldikova will be one of the more high-profile rides of Spieth’s long and successful career. A longshot win would put him one closer to No. 5,000.

“I love what I do, and how many people can say that about a job they’ve been doing for 30 years,” Spieth said. “I’m not going to quit as long as I can do it.”

Judging by the past four months, he can still do it better than most.