Roger Cox is 17years old, 5 feet 3 and, counting his curly brown sideburns, he weighs a mere100 pounds before breakfast. Of course, by the time he gets to breakfast it isgoing on lunchtime—10:30, maybe 11—and he has been out on the job since dawn.Still, when it is set before him, he toys with the eggs, nibbles at a doughnutand sips tentatively at sweet, blond coffee. Mostly Roger bites his nails andsmokes a lot—the skin on his left index finger is on its way to becomingleather—and watches the racetrackers come and go through the door of theBelmont Diner on New York City's Hempstead Turnpike. The diner is directlyacross the road from gate 6 of Belmont Park, where Roger works mornings as anexercise boy, and his particular preoccupation at the moment is that he wantsto be a flat-race jockey. He has been up North for two months, and he hopes itwill not take forever to get "that little break" he needs. In themeantime, it will help considerably if he does not put on weight, if hiswidowed mother in Miami does not worry and if his girl keeps up herletter-every-day routine.
Not that Rogeris altogether brand-new to either going it alone or racing; he has been arounda little already. His father, who died a year ago last month, helped get himstarted. Mr. Cox was a baker in Miami, and he delivered cakes and rolls to therestaurants at Hialeah and Gulfstream Park. He also asked questions and kepthis ears open. One thing he heard paid off. Following it up, Roger dropped outof high school and took a job with a trainer who shipped him up to Delaware andhad him taught to ride. After about a year of raking out stalls and cleaningtack and galloping horses, Roger went home and in the best tradition of riderseverywhere blew $800 in savings on three weeks of high living. That out of hissystem for the moment, he came to New York to look for work as an exercise boyat Belmont. The uniformed guard at the trainers' gate scribbled him out a pass,and after calling at three barns—and being turned down—Roger got what he wantedin the fourth. He did not bother to ask about salary. "I'm happy now,"he said. "I've got a future."
What Roger Coxmight better have said is, "I think I've got a future." For the chancethat he—or anyone else starting out—will make a lasting success of race ridingis so slim it gives knowing insiders the shivers. "I'd rather risk the rentmoney on the longest shot in the eighth race than go through that again,"says an oldtimer who tried and tried and never made it. What he is getting atis that, of the 1,200 active jockeys riding on this country's 101 Thoroughbredtracks, barely two dozen have any national reputation or make thesuper-substantial sums of money one hears about. If maybe a third more enjoysome sort of here-today success and prosperity, 95% of all riders find theirmoney gone tomorrow when they retire. But a young man must necessarily overlooksuch down-in-the-mouth realities; otherwise he would never get anywhere. It isfar more to his purpose to think about a Cincinnati Dead End Kid named HowardGrant, who made more than $50,000 when he was 18, or Eddie Arcaro, who neverwent to high school but wound up winning $30 million in purses.
Nor does itdiscourage a beginner to know that Bill Shoemaker earned $300,000 last yearfrom riding, easily making him the richest man on four legs. And Bill Hartackhas said that he stops working for money at the middle of the year and justkeeps going for the experience. And what about Kokomo's own Tod Sloan, who oncethrew a party for Lillian Russell that set him back $25,000? There was a funguy. George M. Cohan thought so much of him, in fact, he wrote a song calledYankee Doodle Boy about him. Nowadays, of course, Ed Sullivan will have youstand up and take a bow, provided you win the Kentucky Derby, the sacred cow ofhorse racing. Or, for real style, you can be like Hartack and refuse to showup; after all, he has won the Derby four times and some people have plans forSunday night.
June 7, 1964
Which in no way,shape or form is supposed to mean the pleasures and treasures of race ridingcan be totted up in bank accounts and guest appearances. "I loved sports asa kid," says Eddie Arcaro, "but look at me. Who needed somebody my sizeon their football team? So I went to a place I was wanted." Says James L.Petty, a race rider who hails from Arkadelphia, Ark.: "I used to let it getme, but I'd be more than dumb to be put out now 'cause I'm little. Heck, myframe is my fortune."
A questionbetter ignored by the beginner, perhaps, is how sturdy is that frame? Well, ifyou are a jockey, an insurance company would prefer that you did business withthe agency down the street. The Jockeys' Guild, a benevolent organization forall professional flat riders, has paid out almost $200,000 for medical care ofcrippled members, and, on the average, two riders are killed in racetrackaccidents every year. A somewhat more fortunate guild member, Tony DeSpirito,was calculating his riding aches and pains the other day. He has lost hisspleen, two ribs and a kidney, broken his back, broken his jaw and had hisbrain lacerated. "I'm lucky I can still ride," says Tony, who must begiven to understating the case, "because it's the only thing I know how todo."
For whatevercomfort it was, Eddie Arcaro liked to remind himself, "If you want to makeit real big in racing, you can't be afraid of dying." Says Jockey RonnieBaldwin, the father of two sons: "I hold that if you're going to get hurt,you're going to get hurt. So there's no use worrying. I'm lucky to have a wifewho never says, 'Be careful, do be careful,' as I'm going out the door to work.That can get you down and ruin your riding." The cautious approach issometimes called the "married man's style" and can best be described asthe diametric opposite of bachelor Bill Hartack's hell-for-leather technique.California Racing Secretary Jimmy Kilroe gives an example—of a sort. One day atSanta Anita a jockey named P.J. Bailey zipped in on the rail coming into thestretch in a race he had no chance of winning. His daring tactic merely movedhis mount from seventh place to fifth. Later someone asked in bewilderment:"P.J., what in the world were you trying to do?" P.J. tipped back hisracing helmet. "I dunno," he allowed. "I was just testing myselffor nerve, I guess."
As defined inthe dictionary—and in a recent edition, at that—to "jockey" means toexecute by trickery and cheating, and it has not been too very long sincemothers got their daughters in the house before dark if there was a racemeeting in town. The wife of the great Ted Atkinson was the daughter of Ohiotrotting-horse people, and it was just short of a scandal when she took up withthat running-horse boy, never mind his good manners. And as anyone who wasaround will tell you, racing in the '20s and '30s, before the advent of filmpatrols and spying plainclothes Pinkerton detectives, was a thoroughlycutthroat affair. There was no hesitation at all about slashing another jockeyin the face with a whip, or grabbing his saddlecloth, or driving him into—and,if possible, over—the rail.
The 1933Kentucky Derby was won by Jockey Don Meade punching and kicking at the manbeside him, and not a word was said by the stewards. (The same Don Meade, akind of classic performer when it came to bending the rules to fit thesituation, was later suspended from racing for betting on the outcome of raceshe rode. The trouble was he was betting on the other fellows' horses.) SaysEx-Jockey Willie Knapp: "Many of the guys who rode with me wouldn't lasttwo races before being set down for a year these days. In my day  we gota boy in a pocket and left him there. None of this business about giving racingroom."
Many ofAmerica's first jockeys were slaves, and the rise from that low estate has beenslow. "Even as late as the 1880s," says Ted Atkinson, "the riderwas just a sack of oats. His name wasn't even mentioned." Great gobs ofrelative prestige have been captured by jockeys since then, and for some peoplethe name of the jockey nowadays is important to the exclusion of all otherfactors. At California's old Tanforan track, for example. Bill Shoemaker was sohot a few years back that trainers would avoid entering their mounts in racesthey knew he was in. To put a stop to their cowardly—but sensible—attitude, theTanforan stewards made jockeys' names top secret until a race had been filled.Conversely, Chris Rogers, now a jockey in Canada, was riding for Calumet Farmat Hialeah one day and had a mount named Top Lea that was about to go off at 60to 1, the worst odds in years for a Calumet horse. Before the race, TrainerJimmy Jones looked up at the tote board and back at Rogers and said: "Thishorse can't be that bad, Chris. It must be you that's 60 to 1."
Higher standardsof public education and child labor laws have done much to raise the status ofrace riders; for modern jockeys, the Racing Form is something to scan after youhave digested The Wall Street Journal. Few jockeys are high school graduateseven now, but the trend is more toward than away from the high mark set byMitchell Shirota, who got a degree in political science before taking up theponies. Naturally, owners and trainers view the trend with alarm because it isgetting harder and harder to find the likes of Harry Roble, who was thenation's leading rider in 1931 when he was 13. Thirteen-year-olds arelightweight, first, and don't talk back, second. High school graduate BillHartack is only 113, but talks back all the time, and who needs it? Oneencouraging thing for the owners is the steady influx of underweight, underfed,undereducated boys from Latin America. But it is really not fair to suggestowners and trainers are cynical. Not very long ago one friend of racing noblydonated a part of his library to the Aqueduct jockeys' room so the boys wouldhave something better to do than shoot pool, play ping-pong and watch As theWorld Turns all afternoon. The titles include Liberalism and American Educationin the Eighteenth Century and The Rainy Day Book for Boys and Girls and TheEconomic Almanac 1941-42. That none of these books have been opened since theday they were put on the shelf just shows some jockeys care nothing forself-improvement anyway.
If the finishedproduct of jockeys is nevertheless on a general cultural upswing, the source ofthe jockey raw material has stayed pretty much the same since Abraham Lincolnshut off the earliest supply. By and large, all riders come from poor andlower-middle-class families, and a good proportion of them come from the West.Jimmy Picou, once a jockey and now a trainer (his Mr. Brick finished sixth inthe Derby), is the son of a Texas refinery worker who had 16 children. Jimmyraced quarter horses from the time he was 8, and became a middling Thoroughbredjockey until he grew too heavy. Jimmy's father made him finish the 10th grade,but Bobby Ussery, an Oklahoman who is now New York's leading rider, gave up inthe seventh grade to become a stable-boy. But good riders are not necessarilymade in their formative years. There are many like Atkinson and Hartack. Tedwas bottling bleach for Brooklyn's Roselux Chemical Co. when an acquaintanceconvinced him that he should be a jockey and helped him enroll in a ridingacademy in The Bronx. Atkinson was 20 and already too old, they said, to makemuch of a career. Still, he won 3,795 races before he retired 25 years later."I figured I'd been around the world twice on horseback by then," hesaid. "Besides, my back was killing me." Hartack, son of a Pennsylvaniacoal miner, had just graduated (in the top third of his high school class) whena friend took him to a track in West Virginia. He saw four spills, but somehowwas not discouraged. Unpretentious beginnings have the virtue of making ajockey's success sweeter. John Sellers, another Oklahoman, slept in a tack roomat Churchill Downs in Louisville when he started out as a stableboy. Nine yearslater he was in the Kentucky Derby winner's circle aboard the magnificent CarryBack. "You've come a little ways," Sellers mused to himself as he casthis eyes over toward that old green barn. But humble beginnings do notnecessarily beget extravagant endings. "I made up my mind early I'd settleto be a big frog in a little pond," says Joe Servis, a former jockey whorode the small tracks and is now an executive of the Jockeys' Guild. And youhave never heard a lot said, one way or another, about Merlin Volzke fromNebraska. The fact is, Volzke rode Extra Swell in this year's Derby and hasbeen riding on the West Coast since 1942, when he gave up basketball as itbegan to outgrow him. So law-abiding that he has never been set down forbreaking the rules, Merlin likes to bowl and to invest in A.T.& T. Nothingfancy about William Dillard Lucas, either. Son of a fairgrounds jockey andsaloonkeeper, Lucas is a Kentuckian who rides at small tracks in the Midwestand makes so much money he takes off three months in the winter to shootsquirrels. Ronnie Baldwin rode in the Derby, too, this year, but has noillusions about riding on New York's premier circuit. "Who would useme?" he asks. "I get plenty of work in Kentucky and New Orleans, and Igross about $40,000 a year. That's ample, I guess."
There is anormal progression in the life of a jockey. Shortcuts, such as might beprovided by a jockey school, have never been satisfactorily developed in thiscountry, and any jockey not an owner's son has been a stableboy in his day.Like Roger Cox, stableboys do the dirty work that goes on behind the scenes ofglamorous racing, and if they do it willingly enough the trainer may soon letthem commence to exercise the horses. If a boy is a good morning rider, thetrainer may then take a chance and put him in a race, but no one can tell inadvance how it is going to work out. "I've seen exercise boys who were thegreatest horsemen in the world—in the morning," says New York TrainerSylvester Veitch. "I mean, a boy may be a world-beater. But in theafternoon it's the damndest thing. He's nothing. It's like taking an outfielderfrom the Mineola Mudlarks and putting him in Yankee Stadium. He couldn't catcha basketball." The money, of course, is made in the afternoon. An exerciseboy, with room and board, need not be paid more than $100 a month his firstyear on the job. A race rider, however, is paid for every mount ($10 for losingin a cheap race, scaled up to $50 for winning a big race). On top of that, ajockey gets 10% of the winner's purse. The owners call this a gratuity, sinceit is not required by racing rules. Jack Price, owner and trainer of CarryBack, who won him $1.25 million, tried operating without this gratuity when hefirst got into racing. Price soon discovered he could not stay in racingwithout jockeys to ride his horses, so he got back into the swing of things.When such a gratuity amounts to $19,000, as it did for William McKinley Cooklast year after he and Hurry to Market won the Garden State Stakes, it is sometip. One other possible source of afternoon income is betting, which a jockeyis allowed to do, with the proviso that—unlike Don Meade—he bets on his ownhorse and the bet is placed through the owner.
But even richjockeys become defensive when it is suggested that race riding is all gravy. Ajockey has high operating expenses, for one thing. Some estimates say he spendsup to 45% of his gross in equipment, travel, on-the-road lodging, fees to hisjockeys'-room valet and commissions to the agent who books his mounts. SaysBill Hartack, who grossed about $25,000 in this year's Derby and Preaknessalone, "A man who makes $25,000 a year for 20 years saves three times asmuch as the jock who makes $500,000 in five. But in racing you seldom ride for20 years—you get heavy or injured. If a jock quit at 19 with $80,000, hecouldn't live comfortably for more than 10 years. It takes $10,000 a year tolive comfortably. Hell, he'd be broke at 29, and people would say he was ans.o.b. for throwing his money away. You think if I quit I'd be riding around ina new Cadillac every year? Hell, no. I'd be driving last year'sChevrolet."
The rules ofracing do not let just anybody come blasting out of the starting gate for a tryat the bankruptcy Hartack describes. As the authoritative voice of U.S. racing,The Jockey Club has determined that a prospective professional race rider mustspend an apprenticeship of no less than three years with an owner or trainer ofracehorses. An apprentice must be between 16 and 25 years old, and roughly 10%of the active jockeys at any time are apprentices (the asterisks beside theirnames in race programs has given rise to the title "bug boys").Although they may race for other trainers, apprentices are bound to theiroriginal employer by a contract that begins with sinister feudalisticovertones: "This indenture..." In the bargain, the boy agrees"faithfully, honestly and industriously to serve the Employer as stable boyand rider of horses...." For his part, the employer must pay his boy atleast $100 a month for the first year and provide "suitable and properboard, lodging and medical attention." For Bill Boniface, now racing editorfor the Baltimore Sunpapers but an apprentice when he was 15, medical attentionwas a horse pill "the size of a golf ball" that his employer once madehim take when he attempted to use a stomachache as an excuse for not riding aparticularly fractious horse. For Max Hirsch. the trainer for Texas' KingRanch, medical attention is $850 worth of dental work that must be done on arecently signed apprentice. "He's got promise," says Hirsch, a man wholikes apprentices: he sent Ira Hanford and Bold Venture to the Kentucky Derbyin 1936, and when they won he repeated the trick with Bill Boland andMiddleground in 1950. But, says Hirsch, just having an apprentice around isbecoming more like work every year. An ex-jockey himself, Hirsch complains,"Only one apprentice out of a million makes a rider." And even thatone, he says, "won't do a day's work. Used to be a boy saw his duty and didit, but no more. Instead, he's got to read the papers and see what writer ispraising him to the skies and making a fool out of him. The papers ruin moreboys than you would imagine." Ronnie Ferraro, an apprentice of a few yearsback, hews to the same line. "When I drive to work," he once said,"I take a look into the gutter to see if there are any old jockeys lyingthere—jockeys who believed everything that was said about them."
In actualracing, apprentice riders are treated the same as journeymen—they are paid thesame and they, too, have their valets in the jockeys' room who polish theirboots, lay out the right silks, carry their saddles and accept $5 for everywinning mount and $3 for every loser. But to give apprentices some ammunitionagainst the seasoned journeymen, beginners are given certain weight allowances.If, for example, a 3-year-old horse is assigned 117 pounds for a particularsix-furlong race, he may be raced under an apprentice at only 107 pounds. Themore races an apprentice wins, however, the less the allowance he is given,until it disappears altogether after about a year. Often apprentice riders-areimpressive only because they are so light their mounts can flutter ahead to thelead and hold it to the finish. This tactic is not necessarily astute raceriding. Accordingly, apprentices frequently fizzle when they must competeagainst the Shoemakers and Usserys on equal weight terms. For one thing,trainers, who are fickle creatures anyway, suddenly lose interest in them anddo not give them strong horses. Riding cheaper horses, the ex-apprentices beginto lose, and their succeeding mounts are cheaper still. But other apprenticeshave so much skill their pace never slackens when they lose the bug. Shoemakerrode 219 winners in his first nine months of riding, and in the succeeding 15years has ridden 4,300 more. Naturally, once a rider no longer has the weightallowance, he tends to begrudge it to those who do. It even splits up families.Glynn and Kenward Bernis are jockey brothers in Louisiana, with the differencethat Glynn, an apprentice, leads his brother in winners this year about 3 to 2.Just recently they brawled with one another as they hurtled down the stretch."Ken," said Glynn, "is mad as hell at me because I'mwinning."
Until a fewyears ago, it was customary for an apprentice contract to be followed by ajourneyman contract, in which a rider agreed to work for just one stable. TedAtkinson rode for Green-tree Stable and Eddie Arcaro rode for Calumet Farm.Such an arrangement was good and bad, jockeys say—good because it guaranteedthem the best horses the stable might have, bad because they were also obligedto ride the stable's platers as well. Nowadays, however, nearly all jockeys arefree-lance contractors, with a few working on a retainer basis. Manuel Ycaza isretained on a first-call arrangement with Harry Guggenheim's Cain Hoy Stable,i.e., he is required to ride whenever Guggenheim asks; otherwise he is on hisown. Braulio Baeza, until a few weeks ago, was on a first-call contract withFred Hooper Jr., who brought Baeza up from Panama four years ago. The contractpaid $1,000 a month plus 10% of any purses Baeza won for Hooper. Then, justwhen Hooper wanted Baeza in Kentucky, Baeza wanted to ride in New York. The waythis tension was resolved was for Baeza to give Hooper $100,000 and for Hooperto give Baeza the contract.
As thefree-lance rider has emerged, so, too has the jockey's agent. Like theatricalagents, these men book their clients on mounts day to day. Unlike theatricalagents they can claim—and rightly, too—some of the credit for a jockey'ssuccess. A good rider with a bad agent could easily find himself on a string oflosers; any popularity he might have had with trainers would be seriouslyaffected, for trainers are wary of losing jockeys. A bad jockey hiring a goodagent, on the other hand, might show immediate improvement. In any event, forevery leading agent there is a leading rider, and vice versa.
The best agentis the best handicapper, the best man at doping out which horse is most likelyto win which race. But agents must also be talent scouts and smooth, convincingsalesmen. Chick Lang discovered Bill Hartack in West Virginia and was his agentfor six stormy, profitable years. Harry Silbert spotted Bill Shoemaker inCalifornia one day, and Silbert's fortune was made. Assuming Silbert hasreceived the 20% share of the purses that top riders pay their agents, Harryhas grossed a tidy $5,558,528 in the 12 years they have been together. "Oh,it's easy enough to book Shoe and Hartack now," says a friendly rival,"but it took a lot of selling in the beginning. I'll admit a jock is betterthan an empty saddle, but it's the agent that's got to go down to the barn andmake it sound like the jock is something really important. Looked at that way,we don't get 20% of his winnings; we let the jock keep 80% of what's coming tous." This attitude is expressed more subtly in the day-to-day conversationsof all agents. No agent ever says, "My boy win this or that." It isalways, "I win the Derby," and "I win three yesterday,"etc.
Ted Atkinsononce attributed his success to "fast horses and a good agent," and itis a rare jockey who can book mounts for himself successfully. They arenotoriously poor handicappers. "Once I tried to mark a program for a friendwho wanted my advice," says Chris Rogers, then riding at Hialeah. "Whenhe got through following my selections, he had to borrow train fare backNorth." Other bettors are not so interested in the jockey's personalchoices as in mystical information about him that will help them put down anintelligent $2 wager. Said a lady horseplayer to John Sellers one day: "Mr.Sellers, would you please tell me the exact day, hour and minute you werefoaled?" The give and take between jockeys and bettors (who pay the freightfor everybody) sometimes gets more tense. About 10 years ago in Florida, a mantelephoned Ted Atkinson and Conn McCreary with a straightforward proposition:they would tell him which horse would win certain races or he would kill them.He directed the jockeys to signal the winner's number by wearing a Band-Aid ona certain finger while in the walking ring before the race.
McCreary andAtkinson went to the police, and the next day, with plain-clothesmeneverywhere, nothing happened. An officer asked McCreary if he had seen anysuspicious characters in the crowd. "Frankly, chief," said McCreary,"they all looked suspicious to me."
The question ofhow much a jockey I contributes to racing—and why one can win and anothercannot—has been asked countless times but never satisfactorily answered. Ownersand trainers disagree among themselves. Mrs. C.V. Whitney will say that"jockeys are conductors of a symphony in motion," while iconoclasticJack Price would like to see jockeys eliminated. "I wish horses would chasea mechanical carrot, or something," he says. "That would prove whathorse was the best. As far as I'm concerned, when a horse wins a big race thejock should go back to the jocks' room while the horse has his picture takenwith the owner, the trainer and the groom. What's the jock done anyhow? Sat onthe animal's back for two minutes while it ran in a circle. And for that hegets 10% of my money!" While few get quite as steamed up as Price, manyjockeys agree that their role is overrated by some people. Buddy Jacobson, thetrainer who is leading in winners in the country this year, is not guilty ofthis. "The trouble is," he says, "we blame jockeys for losing arace, so we naturally—but incorrectly—give them credit for winning a race.Provided they are both in good physical shape, I think one jockey is as good asanother. So I make a chart. I give points—20 points for winning on a 20-to-lshot, three points for winning on a 3-to 1 favorite. Then I divide by thenumber of races. The jockeys work out about equal. What makes the difference isthe horse. And the last thing I want to hear is a rider's opinion about ahorse. They can't tell me anything, so I hide when I see one coming myway."
Because trainersget 10% of the winning purse, too, some take the position that trainers areresponsible for wins and jockeys for losses. Clarence W. Smith, a Detroitowner, tells this story. "I was with another owner at the races last seasonand his trainer had bought him a horse for $80,000. Well, this horse runsout—by about 22 lengths, I'd say—and the trainer bangs things around in theowner's box and hollers that the jock rode a stupid race. So they fire thejock. Well, that same horse ran five more times—all out of it—before the ownerrealized the trainer was just putting the blame on the jocks. In this case thejocks couldn't make something out of a horse that wasn't there."
An understandingattitude by an owner like Smith is rare, and jockeys ought to appreciate hiskind. Smith's most famous horse was Hillsdale, and the jockey he chose to rideit was Tommy Barrow who was not, if you want the truth, the greatest jockey whoever saddled up. In fact, Barrow made some pretty awful tactical mistakes onHillsdale, and there are those who say one of his errors was the only reasonHillsdale did not win Worse of the Year honors in 1959 and Sword Dancer did. Inthe Woodward Stakes, Barrow took Hillsdale off the rail in the final turn andlet Arcaro and Sword Dancer squeak through to win. "Tommy couldn't explainit, and neither can I," says Smith calmly. "It was over, and what areyou going to do? Tommy was good enough for me."
Jockeys may ormay not help the way a horse works, but one thing that they most certainly dois work themselves. "Riding a mile is like running a mile," HowardGrant once said. "I get off and can't hardly breathe." That jockeysshould have to go without food to be allowed to labor that hard is racing'sfinal irony. There are some riders who never have the problem, but for most,Grant among them, losing weight is an almost constant battle. And it is seldoma simple matter of not eating pecan pie with whipped cream—a luxury JohnSellers permitted himself just the other day. "Calories don't count,"said Jockey Robert Parrott at Churchill Downs recently, "because you'realready down to muscle and bone. The fight is to get rid of the liquid in yourbody." And he took a slow pull on a bottle of Coke. He had not taken offthe cap; he had merely run an ice pick through it so he could not drink it asfast as he would have liked.
The principalway that jockeys "make weight" is through long sieges in the steam roomor hot room that every racetrack makes available, and where jockeys sit hourafter hour in the morning dealing waterproof playing cards or reading soggypapers. Some jockeys take pills to hold down their appetites—a leading jockey'srecent divorce was attributed in part to the pills he took; they made him soirritable no one could stand to be with him. Jack Wallace, an Ohio jockey,chews cigars. "They ain't good," he says, "but then I ain't hungryafter I've chewed one."
ClareCritchfield, now chief of stalls at Gulfstream Park, is probably the onlyjockey in history to come in overweight for his very first race. That was in1930, and Critchfield had a weight problem every day thereafter for 20 years,eventually getting so proficient at losing weight by drinking asweat-inducing" blend of coffee and whiskey that he could tell within twoounces of where he stood. While an occasional jockey will seek a scientificsolution—Jimmy DelVecchio spent $3,500 being fitted to a no-salt diet at theDuke University Medical Center—others invent their own recipes. Conn McCrearyused to drink a 250 box of Ex-Lax dissolved in coffee, and some jockeys forcethemselves to regurgitate a meal they have just finished.
The penaltiesfor such mistreatment of the human body can be severe. One of the best-knownsymbols of American horse racing is the bent-double figure of Sunny JimFitzsimmons, for half a century an eminently successful trainer. Sunny Jim usedto be a jockey, too, and he had quite a bit of trouble making weight. Theextreme measures he employed—including standing before the white-hot heat of abrick kiln—left him, he says, with his twisted spine.
It can be a richlife, a full life and at exciting life, but nobody is ever going to contendthat being a jockey is an easy life.
THE COLORS OF THE DAY
The brilliant pennants waving behind Jockey BillHartack on our cover duplicate the hues of actual owners' silks. Among thosethat are the most readily identifiable: 1) George A. Pope Jr., 2) Fred W.Hooper, 3) Edward P. Taylor, 4) Maine Chance Farm, 5) Greentree Stable, 6)William Haggin Perry, 7) Llangollen Farm, 8) Rex Ellsworth, 9) Alfred G.Vanderbilt, 10) Bohemia Stable.