In the sport of thoroughbred horse racing the magnificent, fleet-footed steeds rightly steal most of the
limelight of the show, however, it remains a concerted two-man effort where the jockey plays a crucial
part in crossing the line first. Here we take a look at the men that have dominated the sport, spending
their lives atop a group of thundering horses, going hell for leather down the track. Men of great skill
in reading a track, the day’s conditions, consider how it affects the track surface, decide on a strategy
most suitable for his given mount on the day in question, and through his actions and decisions
ultimately responsible for bringing home thousands of victories in the course of his career.
Russel A. Baze, a Vancouver native, started 53,578 races in his career lasting from 1974 till 2016,
managed to ride to victory in 12,842 times resulting in a 24%-win ratio and bringing his career
earnings to a total of $199,334,219. Racking him up as the man who stood on the top step of the
victory rostrum the most times in the history of North American Horse Racing, a feat he had
accomplished ten years before hanging up his professional race saddle for the last time. At one stage
recording an extraordinary 13 race winning streak between 1992 and 2014, a feat placing him at the
lead of all jockeys in North America. Inducted into Racing’s National Museum Hall of Fame during 1999
in recognition of his exceptional performance.
Laffit A. Pincay Jr., a Panamanian native, displaced from the top rung by Baze, started his professional
career in North American horse racing during 1966 after immigrating from his birth country. Starting
48,486 races, racking up 9,530 victories to deliver a 20%-win ratio which brought his career earnings
to $237,120,625. His career saw him take home numerous premier race victories including the 1984
Kentucky Derby, become a seven-time winner of the Santa Anita Derby, capture three Belmont Stakes
in 1982, 83, and 84, and inducted into Racing’s National Museum Hall of Fame in 1975.
Bill Shoemaker, commonly known as “The Shoe” began his career in 1949 as a teenager, inducted into
Racing’s National Museum Hall of Fame in 1958, and retired from horse racing as a jockey in 1990.
Memorable victories that brought him the greatest fame include wins in four Kentucky Derbies with 11
wins in Triple Crown races. Remarkably he achieved his 11 Triple Crown race wins being partnered to
10 different horses, with Damascus becoming the only one to distinguish himself with two race wins.
Shoemaker and Damascus rode to victory during the 1967 Preakness and Belmont Stakes races.
Shoemaker held the distinction of being North America’s top winner for an incredible period spanning
29 years. Bill had 40,350 race starts in his career of which he won 8,833 to earn $123,375,524
returning him a 22% career long win ratio.
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