Sixteen of the greatest riders in the history of Thoroughbred racing will gather at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, August 9 for the first-ever "Jockey Legends Day" to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
"Jockey Legends Day" brings together a group that includes 10 Hall of Famers and the winners of two Triple Crowns, 28 Saratoga Race Course meet titles, 75,867 career victories and more than $1.86 billion in lifetime purses, along with 13 Eclipse Awards and 35 individual Triple Crown races.
Saratoga favorites Angel Cordero, Jr., Ramon Dominguez and New York Racing Association racing analyst Richard Migliore are among the former jockeys who will sign autographs from noon to 1 p.m. outside the jockeys silks room for a one-time $10 donation to the PDJF.
Also scheduled to appear are Ron Turcotte and Jean Cruguet, respective riders of Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Seattle Slew; Laffit Pincay, Jr., winner of 9,530 races; Eddie Maple, Chris McCarron, Randy Romero, Jean-Luc Samyn, Nick Santagata, Robbie Davis, Jose Santos, Manny Ycaza, Jacinto Vasquez and Jorge Velasquez.
All will be recognized in a special red-carpet ceremony on the track between the fifth and sixth races.
The event is being held the day after the induction of horses Ashado, Curlin and Clifford; trainer Gary Jones; jockeys Alex Solis and Lloyd Hughes; and sportsmen Edward R. Bradley and Edward P. Taylor to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame across Union Avenue from Saratoga Race Course.
The PDJF is a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides financial assistance to some 60 former jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries. Since its founding in 2006, the fund has disbursed over $5 million to permanently disabled jockeys, most of whom have sustained paralysis or brain injuries.
Following are brief bios of each the Jockey Legends:
ANGEL CORDERO, JR.
Hall of Famer Angel Cordero, Jr. was brought up in a racing family in his native Puerto Rico. His illustrious career included three Kentucky Derby victories, and a total of six Triple Crown wins. Cordero also won four Breeders' Cup races, and was leading rider at Saratoga 14 times. Three years ago, the coveted riding title at the Spa was named for Cordero, whose nickname was the "King of Saratoga." In 1988, Cordero became the first Puerto Rican to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Cordero rode such all-time greats as Seattle Slew, Bold Forbes, Spend A Buck and Groovy. He was awarded the George Woolf Award winner in 1972 and the Mike Venezia Award winner in 1992.
French-born jockey Jean Cruguet is most famous for his 1977 Triple Crown victory aboard Seattle Slew. A native of Agen, Lot-et-Garonne, France, Cruguet was introduced to thoroughbred racing at the age of 16. After meeting his wife, Denyse Pendax, the two moved to the United States, where Cruguet found employment with renowned trainer Horatio Luro at Florida's Hialeah Park. Now 75, Cruguet retired with 2,407 victories. Among his more famous mounts were Arts and Letters, who won the1969 Metropolitan Handicap, champions Hoist the Flag and Mac Diarmida, and of course Seattle Slew, who was undefeated when he swept through the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
Born on July 18, 1961 in Pocatello, Idaho, Robbie Davis started riding quarter horses in Idaho at age 17, then switched to thoroughbreds. His first win took place at Turf Paradise in 1981, after which he moved his tack to the East Coast, where he was leading rider at Aqueduct on several occasions. Major Saratoga winners include the 1988 Hopeful and Sanford with Mercedes Won, the 1998 Hopeful with Lucky Roberto, and the 1985 Saranac aboard Equalize. Grade 1 wins in New York include the 1998 Wood Memorial with Coronado's Quest and the 1998 Jockey Club Gold Cup with Wagon Limit. After retiring in 2002, Davis became a trainer, but his riding tradition is being carried on by three of his six children: Jackie, Katie and Dylan.
A three-time winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey, Ramon Dominguez dominated the New York Racing Association circuit from 2009 until his retirement last year. Winner of 21 individual meet titles in New York, he was leading rider at Saratoga in 2008 and in 2012, when he set a record for victories with 68. Dominguez was injured in a spill in January 2013 at Aqueduct and announced his retirement that June. He was honored in a special ceremony at the Spa last summer, where he was given the Mike Venezia Award. He also received the George Woolf Award in 2012. During his career, Dominguez rode 4,985 winners for more than $191 million in earnings.
Inducted into Racing's Hall of Fame in 2009, 11 years after his retirement, Eddie Maple won 4,398 races and his mounts earned more than $105 million. He began his professional career in his home state of Ohio in 1966 at age 17, and eventually established himself as top rider on the New York circuit in the early 1970s. During his career, Maple won two Belmont Stakes: aboard Temperence Hill in 1980 and with Crème Fraiche in 1985. He also was aboard Secretariat in the champion's last start, a victory in the 1973 Canadian International Championship Stakes. Other notable horses he rode include Awad, Sky Beauty, Forty Niner, Gone West, Conquistador Cielo, Alydar, Dehere, Slew o' Gold and many others. He was awarded the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1995 and the Mike Venezia Memorial Award in 1998.
Born in Boston on March 27, 1955, Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron was introduced to racing by his older brother Gregg, who was also a jockey. Chris McCarron began riding professionally in 1974, and won that year's Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. Six years later, he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey, cleaning up the California circuit and notching wins in the Del Mar Debutante, the La Jolla Handicap, and the San Bernardino Handicap. Before his retirement, McCarron won a total of nine Breeders' Cup races, including five Breeders' Cup Classics, and six Triple Crown races. The champion jockey rode a bevy of racing immortals, most notably John Henry, Alysheba, Sunday Silence and Tiznow, and finished his career as the all-time leader in purse earnings with more than $264 million. He now rests at fourth overall, behind John Velazquez, Pat Day, and Jerry Bailey. He received the George Woolf Award in 1980 and the Mike Venezia Award in 1991.
A 2010 inductee into the Hall of Fame, Romero won 4,294 races with more than $75 million in earnings through his 26-year career. The Louisiana native won riding titles at 10 individual tracks, including Belmont, Arlington, Hialeah, Gulfstream, Keeneland and the Fair Grounds. He won three Breeders' Cup events - the 1989 Juvenile Fillies aboard Go for Wand and the 1987 and 1988 Distaff with Sacahuista and Personal Ensign, respectively. Other notable horses he rode include Risen Star, Housebuster, Wavering Monarch, Life at the Top, Sewickley, Hansel, Seeking the Gold and many others. The 1978 movie Casey's Shadow is based on Romero's father, Lloyd Romero, and his family, including Randy.
With 4,450 career winners, Richard Migliore brings a wealth of experience to his roles as a NYRA television analyst, head of the Apprentice Jockey program at NYRA, and host of the popular New Owners' Luncheons. Born and raised on Long Island, Migliore got a job on a horse farm near his home and decided upon a career as a jockey at age 12. He began riding in 1980, and in 1981 won the Eclipse Award as the nation's top apprentice with 298 victories. Twice the leading rider in New York - in 1981 and 1985 - Migliore won or tied as leading rider at 10 different NYRA meets. Migliore rode mounts who earned more than $160 million and winners of 362 stakes, including his first Breeders' Cup win in the inaugural Turf Sprint in 2008 with Desert Code, and the 2009 Gazelle and Test aboard Flashing. He received the Mike Venezia Award in 2003 and the George Woolf Award in 2008.
LAFFIT PINCAY, JR.
Laffit Pincay, Jr., 67, is a native of Panama who retired in 2003 after winning 9,530 races, more than any jockey in history and surpassed now by only Russell Baze and South American rider Jorge Ricardo. Pincay rode regularly in Southern California, but was no stranger to success in New York. He won the 1973 Whitney Handicap with Tri Jet and was aboard three of Woody Stephens' five Belmont Stakes winners: Conquistador Cielo (1982), Caveat (1983), and Swale (1984). Pincay also won the 1979 and 1987 editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup aboard Affirmed and Crème Fraiche, respectively. Out west, Pincay won the Hollywood Gold Cup nine times, including in 1979 with Affirmed and for the final time in 2002 with Sky Jack. Pincay's notable wins also include the 1984 Kentucky Derby with Swale, the 1986 Breeders' Cup Classic with Skywalker, and seven renewals of the Santa Anita Derby. He received the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey five times (1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1985) and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975. He was recipient of the George Woolf Award in 1970 Mike Venezia Award in 1996.
Born on November 6, 1956 in Bailleil, France, Jean-Luc Samyn began working with horses for John Cunnington at Chantilly at the age of 13. His first winner as a jockey came in 1975 aboard Spring Pear in France. After moving to the United States, Samyn won a number of stakes races including the Haskell Invitational with Skip Trial in 1984. In June 1996, Samyn and late trainer P. G. Johnson reached a rare milestone when they teamed up to win their 400th race together with Kiri's Clown. During a 20-year span, Samyn and Johnson won 73 stakes races together, including Geraldine's Stone in the 1983 Diana, Sweet Velocity in the 1986 Yaddo and Born Twice in the 1997 Waya, all at Saratoga.
New York native Nick Santagata dreamed of playing shortstop for the New York Yankees when he was young, but wound up riding horses at Belmont Park. From 1977-2009, he won 4,144 races with earnings of $74,129,642 including victories in the Vosburgh with Another Reef in 1985 and the following year in the Bay Shore aboard Buck Aly. His best year came in 1993, with 214 victories and nearly $3.9 million in purse earnings. He won the 4,000th race of his career via disqualification in 2006 at Penn National. He was known as a traveling rider - the New York tracks, Laurel Park, Monmouth, Penn National, and Philadelphia Park. Even retired, Santagata continues to work as an exercise rider. He worked Uncle Sigh before his run in the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
One of the most popular jockeys in New York racing history, Jose Santos announced his retirement from riding at Saratoga Race Course a week before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. He won 4,083 times from 25,919 mounts and ranks 18th all time in earnings with $187,242,605. He led the country in earnings from 1986 to 1989. During that run, in 1987, he halted Angel Cordero's streak of 11 straight riding titles at Saratoga. He also won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 1988. Santos won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness aboard Funny Cide, his favorite horse, in 2003. Among his best horses were Criminal Type, Cryptoclearance, Fleet Indian, Fly So Free, Lemon Drop Kid, Meadow Star and Volponi. He received the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1999.
Born on July 22, 1941 in Drummond, New Brunswick, Hall of Famer Ron Turcotte became involved in racing as a hotwalker for E.P. Taylor's farm in Toronto in 1959. Although he rode Northern Dancer to his first victory, Turcotte is most noted for having ridden Secretariat to win the Triple Crown in 1973, breaking a 25-year Triple Crown drought dating back to Citation. Turcotte's Saratoga winners include Glowing Tribute (1976 Diana), Shuvee (1970 and 1971 Diana), Annihilate 'Em(1973 Travers), L'Alezane (1977 Schuylerville), Secretariat (1972 Sanford and Hopeful), and Fort Marcy (1967 Bernard Baruch). He received the George Woolf Award in 1979.
Through a career that encompassed parts of five decades before ending in 1996, Jacinto Vasquez is best known as the regular rider of Hall of Fame filly Ruffian from 1974-75. Born in Panama in 1944, Vasquez was a leading apprentice in his native country before moving to the United States in 1960. His 5,231 career victories include triumphs in the Kentucky Derby with Foolish Pleasure in 1975 and Genuine Risk in 1980, then only the second filly to take the Run for the Roses. Vasquez defeated the legendary Secretariat twice in 1973, with Angle Light in the Wood Memorial and Onion in the Whitney at Saratoga. A two-time winner of the Travers, with Loud in 1970 and General Assembly in 1979, he earned induction into the Hall of Fame in 1998.
Born on December 28, 1946, Jorge Velasquez was a teenager when he began riding in his native Panama before coming to the United States. He led all North American jockeys in wins in 1968 and purses earned in 1969, swept the Filly Triple Crown (Acorn, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club American Oaks) with Chris Evert in 1974 and Davona Dale in 1979, and captured the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with Pleasant Colony in 1981. Velasquez was also the regular rider for Alydar, runner-up to Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races in 1978 before turning the tables in the Travers. A winner of 6,795 races between 1963 and 1997, Velasquez won the Breeders' Cup Classic and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 1985, was voted the George Woolf Memorial Award in 1986, and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.
Manuel Ycaza, 76, relocated from Panama to the United States in 1954 and, after a brief stint in Mexico, permanently relocated to the U.S. in 1955, quickly gaining attention by winning the meet title at Golden Gate Fields and giving perennial leading jockey Bill Shoemaker a scare in the battle for the Santa Anita riding title. In 1959, Ycaza won his first Travers aboard Sword Dancer and first of five Saratoga riding titles. Five years later, Ycaza ended Northern Dancer's Triple Crown bid with a victory aboard Quadrangle in the Belmont Stakes. Later that summer, Quadrangle gave Ycaza his second win in the Travers. Ycaza also took the 1963 Queen's Plate with Canebora and swept the 1968 Filly Triple Crown (Acorn, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club American Oaks) with Dark Mirage. Ycaza won 2,367 races in his career was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. He won the George Woolf Award in 1964.