7 Noteworthy Figures in North American Horse Racing

Horse racing dates back to the year 1665, with the first racing event in North America being supervised by New York’s colonial governor, Richard Nicolls. The subsequent years saw many rising in the game, including jockeys, horse breeders, and ranchers. 

Businessmen like Eugene Melnyk came into the horse racing industry as a breeder and raised reputable horses. His prowess and progress in the field are only well explained on his website. North American horse racing jockeys were the most noteworthy figures.

Over the years, the jockeys rose and shone in the game that brought both the affluent and impoverished together. So, who are these noteworthy figures in the North American horse racing industry? Let’s find out below.

The Remarkable Figures of the North American Horse Racing Industry

Many notable persons behind the scenes made sure the North American horse racing industry ran smoothly. However, the most visible figures are the horse racing jockeys. Let’s have a look at some of them below.

  1. Angel Cordero Jr. 

With an 18% winning percentage and over $167,570,000 total earnings, Angel Cordero Jr. became the most famous jockey originating to originate from Puerto Rico. He was the only person from Puerto Rico to win each of the Triple Crown.

He won the Kentucky derby thrice. This earned him a space in history books as one of the eight jockeys who have ever won the Race of the Roses three or more times. 

Cordero had an accident that saw him retire in 1992 but still pulled together in 1995 when he held his farewell race. He earned an induction into the National Museum of Racing and the Hall of Fame in 1988.

  1. Laffit A. Pincay Jr. 

Laffit Pincay Jr. was one jockey to watch, and his fellow competitors knew it. His resume was impressive, with 9,350 first-place finishes, a 20% winning percentage, and over $237,120,000 total earnings. 

He began his professional racing career in North America in 1966 after successful immigration from his native country, Panama. He has had a remarkable winning record in his racing career, which saw him gather the following winnings:

  • The Kentucky Derby in 1984
  • The Belmont Stakes in 1982, ’83, and ’84
  • The Santa Anita Derby seven times

Later on, he got inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1975 after he had retired.

  1. Russell A. Baze

Russell prides himself in a vibrant horse racing resume having finished first-place 12,842 times with a 24% winning percentage and bagging more than $199,334,000. He began his racing career back in 1974 and only recently hung his saddle in 2016.

When finishing his career, he decided to do it in a winning style. He made the most winnings there ever have been in the North American Thoroughbred Horse Racing history. He achieved these historical wins in December 2006. 

While making the historic wins in 2006, he was already on an impressive winning mission where he led all North American jockeys with 13 wins from 1992 to 2014. The Vancouver native was officially honored by an induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1999.

  1. Chris J. McCarron 

Chris J. McCarron is remembered for his stellar performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. As many jockeys struggle to win one Breeders’ Cup Classic, the case was different for McCarron. He did win the race a quintet of times between 1988 and 2001. 

With 7,141 first-place finishes, 21% winning probabilities, and a total earning of $263,986,000, Chris became a household name in the North American horse racing duel. Some wonder why he has one of the highest total purses amounts the horse race has ever seen, but not until they see more of his achievements which include: 

  • Two victories at the Kentucky Derby
  • Two victories at the Belmont Stakes
  • Two victories at the Preakness Stakes

Chris McCarron was later, in 1989, inducted into the National Museum of Racing and the Hall of Fame. 

  1. Pat Day

Triple Crown Races were some of the coveted prizes in the North American horse racing championships. However, not all jockeys could pride themselves in winning as much as Day won in the Triple Crown. Day won nine Triple Crown races in his entire career, putting him in the spotlight as one of the most successful racers.

His 8,803 first-place finishes, 22% winning percentage, and a lump sum of more than $297,914,800 as total earnings bring him to the coveted list of successful jockeys. He also found great success at the Breeders’ Cup Classic, winning four times over 15 years. 

Pat Day had his induction into the National Museum of Racing and the Hall of Fame in 1991.

  1. Bill Shoemaker 

Bill Shoemaker, popularly known as ‘The Shoe,’ started his riding career while a teenager back in 1949. Shoemaker is famously remembered for his 11 Triple Crown overall race wins and four Kentucky Derby wins. 

He achieved his Triple Crown race wins with the help of ten different horses. Damascus was the most successful one of the ten horses, helping him win two top 11 Triple Crown races. The two races he won while riding Damascus were the Belmonte Stakes and the Preakness Stakes in 1967. 

Shoemaker held the title of top winner in North American horse racing for 29 years in his entire career. He managed 8,833 first-place finishes, a total of $123,375,524 earnings, and maintained a 22% win rate. 

Before retiring as a jockey in 1990, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and the Hall of Fame in 1958.

  1. Russell Baze 

While he may not be as high-profile as the other jockeys on the list, he boasts of the most winnings in the North American horse races. He managed about 13,000 first-place finishes in his career, at a 25% winning rate and more than $199,334,200.

He holds the record of most winners in a season and is a ten-time American champion jockey. He mastered the art of winning so much so that he could partner to victory, one of every four racehorses he rode on in his career. 

He might not have had a success story in the Triple Crown or Breeders’ Cup races, but he is worth the honors he received. However, he did participate in the Kentucky Derby and other Grade 1 races. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and the Hall of Fame in 1999. 

Final Words

Current Jockeys, investors, and horse breeders have much work to do to match the quality of work those who went ahead of them did. Investor and horse breeder, Eugene Melnyk, has done great already in his quest to see the North American horse racing sports continue. Upcoming jockeys are also doing a commendable job to make the sport exciting and competitive.

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