As itineraries go, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith’s for this Friday and Saturday is predictable: He’ll be in the starting gates for the Breeders’ Cup races at Los Angeles’ Santa Anita Park. As for any predictability from that point on? Count on the kind of knuckle-biter Smith is known for among his 5,000 career wins, including a record-breaking 17 Breeders’ Cup titles on notorious thoroughbreds like Zenyatta and Royal Delta. Where he’ll go when he finally gets to take an ever-elusive vacation? It has everything to do with a person versus a destination — or even a horse.
What’s something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?
Razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, toiletries…
Carry-on or check-in?
Carry-on, if possible.
Window or aisle?
Aisle. I get up and down a lot.
What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
I haven’t taken one quite yet. Most of the travel I do is for riding, which is like vacationing at times, as it gives me the opportunity to travel all over the world.
Tell us about a vacation you’ve taken that’s come close thus far.
I love to go home to Santa Fe, N.M. It’s one of my favorite places. Especially during the holidays.
Where would you take someone visiting your hometown for the first time?
All the beautiful art galleries and the countryside. Santa Fe is one of the prettiest places around. The sunsets are amazing there. And it has the best Spanish food in the world.
What’s the worst annoyance you’ve encountered while traveling?
I have OCD, so if I have a connection I have to make and we’re delayed taking off, it freaks me out and ruins my whole trip. I can’t stand having to rush. I like to be really early.
What's the most decadent souvenir you’ve ever brought back from a trip?
If I get to bring something back, it’s usually a trophy. They’re pretty nice.
Ever try a food you wished you hadn't?
Sea urchin in Japan. It was horrible.
Favorite hotel you've ever stayed in?
The Meydan Hotel in Dubai. It’s on the racetrack and is just out of this world.
Biggest regret you've ever had while on vacation.
Any time I’m somewhere like Hawaii, I never really go sightseeing or snorkeling. I wind up staying in the resort at the tiki bar.
The one thing you're willing to splurge on when traveling above all else.
Anything and everything.
Artists on your travel playlist?
I love country music — Blake Shelton, George Strait, Alan Jackson and Merle Haggard.
You only get one more trip in your lifetime. Where will it be?
Wherever my mom is.