05/24/2007 11:00PM

Top riders vs. hot riders

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Anybody can take a look at the jockey standings for a favorite track and see who the leading riders are. But some of the numbers can be misleading. Are the jockeys near the top of the list riding as well recently as they were earlier in the meet? What about the jockeys who don't get as many mounts as the most popular riders? How would they stack up in terms of wins and return on investment if you dig a little deeper and measure them based on the same number of recent races?

I checked the top 15 riders at Churchill Downs based on total wins and found a few who are doing better than most handicappers realize, and a few others who are underperforming. I measured each of them on their number of wins and their return on investment from their last 50 mounts. Not all of those races were at Churchill, but they are still indicative of the recent form of each jockey.

Through Wednesday, Julien Leparoux was the leading rider with 25 wins. But he is only tied for fourth-place among the 15 jockeys I studied, with 8 wins from his last 50 races, and a mediocre $1.34 ROI.

Rafael Bejarano is second at the meet with 23 wins, and is also riding well in his recent races. He is tied for first place in my research with 14 wins from his last 50 races. Better yet, he is showing a small profit with a $2.17 ROI.

Robby Albarado is third in the Churchill standings with 22 wins, but is tied with Bejarano for first place in his recent races won with 14. His ROI is higher than Bejarano's at $2.78.

Calvin Borel scored the most important win of his career aboard Street Sense in the Kentucky Derby at this Churchill meet, and is fourth in the overall standings with 17 wins. But he has won just 7 of his last 50 rides, with a $1.50 ROI. Factor in his current popularity with bettors, and his horses probably will continue as underlays during the coming weeks.

Jamie Theriot is in fifth place at Churchill with 13 wins. But he is near the bottom of this list with just 5 wins from his last 50 races, and a low $1.00 ROI.

Jesus Castanon is only sixth in the standings at Churchill with 12 wins, but he has been a friend to bettors in his recent races. He shows 9 wins and a generous $2.98 ROI from his last 50 mounts.

Corey Lanerie is seventh at Churchill with 11 wins. He has 6 victories from his last 50 rides, which produced a $1.32 ROI.

Miguel Mena is in midpack among the top 15 jockeys overall, but he is near the bottom of the pack more recently with 5 wins from his last 50 rides. His ROI is low at $1.04.

Shaun Bridgmohan and Alonso Quinonez are next in the jockey standings at Churchill, and are tied with 7 wins each from their last 50 races. But the difference is that Quinonez has been scoring at bigger prices with a $2.43 ROI vs. $1.34 for Bridgmohan.

John Velazquez is only 11th in the Churchill standings but he is tied for fourth place with Leparoux with 8 wins from his last 50 rides. Bets on Velazquez's horses yielded a return that is only slightly better than even after the parimutuel takeout, at $1.72, sixth-best of the group of 15.

Of the four other riders in the top 15 in the Churchill standings, William Troilo has 7 wins from his last 50, Mark Guidry and Brian J. Hernandez Jr. 6 each, and Larry Melancon 4. Of that group, only Hernandez was profitable, his ROI an impressive $3.82.