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'All I Do Is Pray': Jockey Mike Smith Relying on God for Next Race with 'Justify'

05-19-2018
Mike Smith and Justify
Mike Smith and Justify
Coming off their big win at the Kentucky Derby, Jockey Mike Smith and his horse Justify are getting ready for the second leg of the Triple Crown this weekend.
 
Smith told CBN News he's going to prepare for the Preakness Stakes the same way he does any race – with training, strategy and prayer. 
 
The 52-year-old jockey garnered extra attention after the Derby when he thanked Jesus during his first interview after crossing the finish line.
 
Smith told reporters, "I just want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing us on this afternoon, and blessing us with this amazing horse."
 
"I just couldn't keep it inside of me," Smith told CBN News. "I truly give God all the glory and I had to say it. Without Him I wouldn't have all the success I do."
 
Smith said that when he's mounted on his horse, he follows God just as he normally would.
 
"I believe there's just a flow that guides me and when I follow it, amazing things happen," he said. "And that's with everyday life too. When God's leading you, you follow it."
 
Justify made racehorse history when he won the Derby after never racing as a 2-year-old, being the first horse to do so since Apollo in 1882. Racing fans called it the "Apollo Curse."
 
Superstitions run deep in the racing world, but Smith says he doesn't pay attention to them, he relies on God.
 
"People always ask me if I'm superstitious and I say, 'If you consider praying superstitious because all I do is pray,'" Smith said.
 
Smith is a veteran jockey, his career kicking off in 1982. He says he's ridden plenty of amazing horses but that there is just something special about Justify.
 
"He's sent from Heaven," Smith said. "He's just got this 'it' factor. Everything he does is exceptional. He's got a brilliant mind, and for a powerful racehorse like him who has a mind of his own, he's still just eager to please. Even just looking at him he's this massive beautiful horse."
 
Smith and Justify take on the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore on Saturday. From there, they look ahead to the Belmont Stakes on June 9. Wins at those two races would secure them the Triple Crown title, every jockey's dream.
 
"I'm blessed enough to have won the first one and now we just have to focus on the next," Smith said. "Good Lord's willing if it's meant to be it'll be."
 
Beyond that, Smith says he'll continue to follow God's plan.
 
"As long as I continue to stay healthy, I'm going to keep riding until God shows me what's next. God has a plan for me, and right now he's keeping me in the saddle," Smith said.

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