Triple Crown winners to headline 51st annual Governor’s Dinner

RENO — In its first 50 years, the Governor’s Dinner has seen appearances from Hall of Fame athletes to all-time Wolf Pack great to legendary coaches. The 51st annual Governor’s Dinner adds a new twist on Northern Nevada’s premier summer social event: an evening with horse racing’s royalty.

Bob Baffert, a two-time Triple Crown winner and a five-time Kentucky Derby champion as a trainer, and Mike Smith, a Hall of Fame jockey who rode Justify to the Triple Crown last year, will headline the Nevada athletics department annual event on the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City next month.

The event is set for Thursday, July 11, with a private VIP reception featuring live music and cocktails at 5 p.m., and doors opening at 6 p.m. with the dinner and program at 7 p.m. 

Tickets are $350 per person and tables of 10 for $3,500. VIP tickets, which includes the pre-event VIP reception along with complimentary valet, pictures with Baffert and Smith, and premier reserved seating for the dinner and program, are $500 a person with tables at $5,000. The registration deadline is July 5.

Tickets are on sale now and available online at or by calling 775-682-6901. All tickets include cocktails and a reserved seat for dinner and the program at the event. 

All proceeds from the Governor's Dinner benefit student-athlete scholarships at the University of Nevada. For more information on the event, please contact Nevada’s Director of Special Events Kim Anastassatos at

 Dinner is provided by the Eldorado and sponsors of the event are: The ROW, Carson Valley Inn, Bodines Casino, Sharkey’s Casino, Peppermill Resort Spa Casino, Whispering Vine, Hart Foundation, E.L. Cord Foundation, Morrey Distributing and Pepsi.

 Baffert is one just two trainers in the history of the sport to train a pair of Triple Crown winners. He broke a 37-year draught in the sports ultimate achievement in 2015 when American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes to win the Triple Crown Trophy.

He then bagged his second Triple Crown – there have only been 13 in the history of the sport — with Justify in 2018.

He’s won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Training four times in his career and he is a member of the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame. In all, Baffert’s horses have won five Kentucky Derbies, seven Preakness Stakes, three Belmont Stakes, three Kentucky Oaks and 15 Breeders’ Cup races.

Smith was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2003 and he’s the second-leading jockey all-time in terms of earnings with more than $312 million in his career. 

But at age 53, he’s still at the top of his game and is one of the leading riders in the nation, having captured more Breeders’ Cup wins (26), than any other jockey.

 He has won more than 5,400 races in his illustrious career, which includes seven wins in Triple Crown races and 26 victories in the Breeders’ Cup series. He’s a two-time winners of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey and a three-time winner of the Bill Shoemaker Award. 

 There’s only been 12 jockeys who have won the Triple Crown and last year, at the age of 52, Smith became the oldest to ever do so atop Justify. Overall, he’s won seven times in Triple Crown races and also had two wins in the Kentucky Oaks and five international race wins, including the Dubai Classic in 2017.