The 15: Best Jockeys To Come To Maryland
By Rich Paul
Pimlico has presented world-class horse racing since the day it first opened, in October 1870. The top riders of all time have plied their trade at Old Hilltop. Here is a list of 15 of the best, all members of the National Museum Hall of Fame in Saratoga, N.Y.
|(Photos by Jim McCue/MJC)
1. George Barbee was born in England, but he rode Survivor to victory during the first Preakness Stakes (1873). He won the Black-Eyed Susans again in 1876 and 1883, a record that stood until Eddie Arcaro rode his fourth Preakness winner in 1951. Survivor's 10-length score in the Preakness was the greatest margin of victory until Smarty Jones topped it in 2004.
2. Willie Simms became the only African-American to win the Preakness in 1898. Simms rode for the top owners in the nation, including August Belmont, Mike and Phil Dwyer, Richard Croker, Pierre Lorillard, John E. Madden and James R. Keene. He also won editions of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. A backlash against African-American riders at the turn of the century forced Simms to go to England, where he introduced the American style of riding with short stirrups.
3. John Loftus rode from 1909 until 1919, and during his final year in the irons, he rode the greatest horse of the 20th century, Man o' War. He won the 1916 Preakness with War Cloud and the 1919 Preakness with Sir Barton, who went on to become the first Triple Crown winner. Loftus later became a trainer and won Pimlico's Dixie Stakes in 1938 with Pompoon.
4. Earl Sande was one of the most popular athletes of the 1920s. Sande rode the best horses of his day, including Zev, Man o' War, Crusader and Sir Barton. He rode Gallant Fox to Triple Crown fame in 1930. He was the leading rider in the nation three times during the 1920s. After retiring from riding, Sande trained Stagehand, who upset Seabiscuit during the 1938 Santa Anita Handicap.
5. George Woolf was known as "The Iceman," because of his habit of sitting chilly on a horse until making his move. Woolf suffered from diabetes and rode only four or five horses per week, because he had to watch his diet and exercise to keep his weight under control. He considered his victory ride on Seabiscuit against War Admiral during the 1938 Pimlico Special the best of all.
6. Johnny Longden had one of the longest careers as a jockey when he retired at age 59. He retired as the winningest rider in the nation after riding greats such as Whirlaway, Swaps and TV Lark. He won the Triple Crown aboard Count Fleet in 1943, a series that included the Preakness. He later won the Preakness as a trainer with Majestic Prince.
7. Eddie Arcaro won the Preakness five times. Arcaro was known for his great hands, seat and sense of pace. He rode for the best trainers, including Ben Jones and Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons. He rode 11 Hall of Fame horses and won multiple runnings of the Kentucky Derby as well.
8. Willie Shoemaker won 8,833 races during his career, including Preaknesses with Candy Spots and Damascus. He led North American jockeys 10 times during his career and rode some of the greats, including John Henry, Northern Dancer, Spectacular Bid, Buckpasser, Round Table, Forego, Swaps and Sword Dancer. He won 11 Triple Crown races overall.
9. Chris McCarron rode at Pimlico as an apprentice and was an immediate success. After leading the nation in races won for several years, he moved his tack to California. He won two runnings of the Preakness with Alysheba and Pine Bluff. He won multiple Triple Crowns and Breeders' Cup races and rode some of the finest of his time, including John Henry, Sunday Silence, Touch Gold and Tiznow.
10. Kent Desormeaux came to Maryland from Louisiana as a teenager and won the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice rider. He led the nation in wins from 1987 to 1989. He has won two Preakness Stakes, with Real Quiet and Big Brown. Desormeaux continues to ply his trade at all major races.
11. Gary Stevens became a leading rider at small western tracks before bursting on the scene when he won the Kentucky Derby in 1988 with Winning Colors. He won the Preakness twice, with Point Given and Silver Charm. Since his retirement in 2005, Stevens has been a horse racing television commentator and a Hollywood actor.
12. Jerry Bailey won 216 Grade One races during his career, including Hansel and Red Bullet in the Preakness Stakes. He also won two runnings of the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, and rode the incomparable Cigar, who was victorious in the Pimlico Special aboard Include and Skip Away.
13. Willie Hartack rode Northern Dancer to victory during the Preakness. He also delivered aboard Majestic Prince for trainer Johnny Longden and earlier rode Fabius to win the Black-Eyed Susans. He won the Kentucky Derby five times. Hartack was known for his intelligence and his keen desire to win.
14. Pat Day rode five Preakness winners during his illustrious career. He won riding titles all over the nation. When he retired in 2005, he had established an earnings record of $264,580,968, which still stands. He won four Eclipse Awards as outstanding jockey and is considered one of the most successful jockeys of all time.
15. Edgar Prado was a leading rider in Maryland for a number of years during the early 1990s before switching his tack to New York and Florida. He won the Kentucky Derby with Barbaro, but was on the colt when he took a bad step and broke down in the Preakness. Prado's victories in the Belmont Stakes aboard Savara and Birdstone denied Triple Crown titles to War Emblem and Smarty Jones.
Rich Paul is the media relations assistant and press box supervisor for the Maryland Jockey Club.
Issue 173: May 2012