Mike Smith, the winningmost Grade 1 jockey in North America, believes he is riding at "the top of his game" at the age of 54 and has no plans to retire any time soon.
That is not the case, however, for his regular ride Omaha Beach who missed his intended run in the Pegasus World Cup on Saturday and now heads to stud. He was scratched on Thursday evening after trainer Richard Mandella found swelling in his right hind fetlock.
However, Omaha Beach, who was favourite for the $3 million event, will always hold a special place in Smith's heart. Last month the pair teamed up to win the Malibu Stakes, giving the rider a 217th Grade 1 winner and surpassing the US top-level win record set by Jerry Bailey. But veteran rider Smith has no intention of stopping yet.
Speaking on Wednesday, Smith said: "I'm in great shape and as long as I stay healthy – God willing – I'd love to go on for another few years. I feel like I'm riding at the top of my game, if I start thinking that I'm not then I'll think about hanging up.
"I'm feeling so good and I'm contributing and helping – I want to keep going. Nothing beats experience too, when you get up to your later ages you have much more of that. The more experience you have doing something, the better you can be at it.
"I'm still in good shape so why not keep going? I'm not riding too many horses, I'm focused on riding quality. That'll help me stay around a whole lot longer."
Smith broke Bailey's record on what was one of the memorable days of the veteran rider's career.
He rode a four-timer at Santa Anita on December 28, which included a win that levelled the Grade 1 record on outsider Hard Not to Love in the La Brea Stakes. Just over an hour later he made history on Omaha Beach.
"It was an amazing day", he added. "I knew going in there it [breaking the record] was live and capable of happening but I didn't want to think about it. You can get too caught up with it.
"Anytime you break one of Jerry Bailey's records is quite special. I think a lot of him – he's one of my idols – so it means a lot.
"I'm looking now to put many more on my record so no one breaks it. I'm sure it'll be caught sometime, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts."
Smith added of the retiring Omaha Beach: "It's a shame we can't have him around for another year but he's worth so much as a stallion. It is what it is and we'll make the most of it."