The youngest jockey to finish the 2023 Kentucky Derby was Manuel Franco, who was 21 years old at the time. He rode Verifying to a respectable 10th place finish. Manuel “Manny” Franco, a Puerto Rican professional jockey, is widely recognised for his triumph in the 2020 Belmont Stakes astride Tiz the Law. Born on December 19, 1994, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Franco commenced his riding career in 2013 and has since amassed over 1,300 victories. Throughout his journey, he has claimed numerous prestigious stakes races, including the 2019 Travers Stakes, the 2020 Florida Derby, and, of course, the 2020 Belmont Stakes.
Franco is by no means a large guy, which is important when becoming a jockey. In fact, he fits the bill perfectly as he is only 5 ft 1 inches tall. However, this simply means that he is fearless on a horse, getting the most from his equine friend.
Of course, a rider with this much ability doesn’t go unnoticed and so, he has already picked up the Eclipse Award for Outstanding jockey in 2020. This makes him the youngest ever recipient of this award, turning him into an inspiration for up and coming jockeys.
Manuel Franco serves as a role model, not only within the horse racing community but also for individuals worldwide. His remarkable journey underscores the notion that with unwavering determination, one can achieve extraordinary feats. The sport has a lot to expect from Franco, as do the fans but there is no doubt that he will continue to leave his mark on the sport for years to come.