Mike Smith Compares Taiba To Justify: ‘No Telling What He’s Capable Of’ by Paulick Report Staff|04.15.2022|5:08pm Taiba and jockey Mike Smith win the Santa Anita Derby Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith picked up the mount on Taiba just before the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, when his previous rider John Velazquez opted to stick with the more-seasoned Messier. After all, the 3-year-old son of Gun Runner had only made one start, a winning effort in a six-furlong maiden special weight for trainer Bob Baffert before being transferred to the care of Tim Yakteen. No one was as surprised as Smith when Taiba defeated Messier by 2 1/4 lengths. Smith told the Los Angeles Daily News: “He gave me another gear and I was like, 'Whoa!' I mean, he's supposed to be getting tired and not giving me another gear. That's what really blew my mind. That was impressive, that last eighth of a mile.” Taiba has since drawn comparisons to Triple Crown winner Justify, Smith said. Justify won the Santa Anita Derby in his third lifetime start, then proceeded to become the 13th winner of the Triple Crown before retiring. Smith believes Taiba has the same amount of talent, though the colt will still have to prove it on the racetrack starting on the first Saturday in May. “He's a really intelligent horse on top of having that kind of ability,” Smith told the LA Daily News. “That's what makes 'em special. Those type of horses, not only are they so talented, but they have the mind to go with it. “Imagine if he moves forward off that race? If he does that, no telling what he's capable of.” Read more at the Los Angeles Daily News.