Most Famous Jockeys In Kentucky Derby History

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Most Famous Jockeys In Kentucky Derby History

Jayne Mansfield with (left to right) jockeys Johnny LongdenEddie Arcaro and Willie Shoemaker in 1957. This image comes from the Los Angeles Times Photographic Collection at the UCLA Library, which published it under under a CC-BY 4.0 license.


So, Seattle Slew, the only undefeated Triple Crown winner, was owned by Auburn grads. We all know that. But let’s look at some other famous horses.

Because the Kentucky Derby 2023 is quickly approaching — Saturday, May 6th. The field for the prestigious opening race of the Triple Crown season is slowly taking shape, with ante-post bettors continuing to examine where value can be found in the early betting markets.

However, for many, jockey bookings will have a big impact on the bets that will be placed at Churchill Downs for the Grade 1. That information isn’t likely to be revealed until the week of the race itself. But, who have been some of the most famous jockeys in the prestigious race throughout its 147-year history?

Eddie Arcaro

It would be hard to speak about legendary Kentucky Derby jockeys without starting with Eddie Arcaro. The legend is tied for the most race wins in history, having landed Kentucky Derby success on five occasions. He is also regarded as one of the best in history, as he is the only jockey to have become part of the list of Triple Crown winners.

Arcaro landed his first Derby win in 1938 with Lawrin, before achieving the feat once against in 1941 with Whirlaway. The runner would land the Triple Crown that year following success in the Belmont Stakes, and Preakness Stakes. Hoop Jr gave the jockey a third win in 1945, before Citation would become Arcaro’s second Triple Crown winner in 1948. His final Derby success came in 1952 with Hill Gail.

Bill Hartack

Arcaro isn’t the only jockey to have won the Derby on five occasions, as Bill Hartack jointly holds the record. He landed a first in the prestigious race in 1957 with Iron Liege, before returning to the winners’ enclosure once again in 1960 with Venetian Way.

That would lead to a dominant period in the race for Hartack, as he would win the prestigious race at Churchill Downs on three occasions in five years. His next success came in 1962 Decidedly, before Northern Dancer recorded a fourth win in the race for the jockey in 1964. There would be a long break before his final win, but a history-making fifth triumph finally arrived in 1969 with Majestic Prince.

Bill Shoemaker

There are few more historic jockeys in the history of racing than Bill Shoemaker, as he holds the all-time record for the most professional victories. Over his 29-year career, Shoemaker landed 8,833 victories, which included four victories in the Kentucky Derby. However, he arguably should have had five wins in the race, as he stood up too soon on Gallant Man in the 1957 edition of the race after misjudging the finishing line, allowing Iron Liege to capitalize.

His first Derby success was achieved in 1955 with Swaps, before a second arrived four years later with Tomy Lee. Shoemaker showed his dominance in the race by winning back-to-back renewals in 1965 and 1966 onboard Lucky Debonair and Ferdinand, respectively. His staggering record is evident by the fact that he won Triple Crown races over four different decades.

John Velazquez

The only current jockey to have won at least three Derby is John Velazquez. The talented rider has won three of the prestigious races at Churchill Downs to date, and a fourth could be on the agenda in 2023. Velazquez’s first win in the race was achieved in 2011 with Animal Kingdom for trainer Graham Motion. However, he would need to wait until 2017 to register his next victory in the race, which would come on board Always Dreams for Todd Pletcher.

His most recent success came in 2020 when the Triple Crown season was re-scheduled due to COVID-19. However, Velazquez benefitted from that, as he rode the likable Authentic to a sensational victory. Velazquez has also won the Belmont Stakes on two previous occasions, but a Preakness Stakes win still eludes him.

from The War Eagle Reader

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