The best way to emphasize the names engraved in the history of Jockeys in the 1950’s is to mention the leaders of the previous year. In the 1940s the top riders were Adams, Arcaro, Atkinson, Meade and Longden. As they continued to reign in the early 1950s, they were joined by a name that would wreak havoc on racing history: Shoemaker. Shortly after completing his sophomore year with 388 wins, he was tied with the leading jockeys’ standings. He was the only one to win over $1 million in the early 1950s.
William Boland was among the top names of the year and made his mark as an apprentice jockey. He had left everyone stunned with his performance with Hill Prince when he had won by 1½ lengths from jockey Arcaro. The main concerns for apprentice jockeys during this time were the differing rules regarding apprenticeship around the world; this led them to jump from one region to another to maintain their apprenticeship allowances. It was the Jockey’s Guild that introduced standardized rules that were applied around the world.
The year 1951 was marked by the highest number of jockey deaths, reaching 10 fatalities. The most remembered jockey of the 1950s is LeRoy, who died on January 12, 1956 after a tragic fall from his mount with brain damage. After that tragic loss, the horse racing world faced yet another fatal death of John Alessio, the president of Caliente Racetrack. After his death, helmet use for the jockeys while riding was approved and required; this gained publicity and acceptance as the “Caliente Safety Helmet”, this rule was applied to train boys, outriders, apprentices, pony boys and girls.
The talk of the times in the racing industry was whether John Longden would surpass Sir Gordon Richard’s record of achieving the maximum number of wins in horse racing history. In the end, it was John Longden who won his 320th in a single racing season.
The year 1957 saw the remarkable jockeying of Bill Shoemaker and Bill Hartack on Gallant Man and Iron Liege respectively during the Kentucky Derby. Both battled side by side through a tough run at Churchill Downs until Shoemaker misjudged the length and fell behind, giving Bill Hartack his first Derby win. Proving the victory was no accident, he won four of the following derbies, later retiring alongside Arcaro as the winning Derby jockey.
The following year was marked by the surprise deaths of jockey Jackie Westrope and Joe Snyder after being injured just a week apart.
In 1958, three Jockeys were voted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame –
Eddie Arcaro – the only jockey to win the Triple Crown twice.
Johnny Longden – won over 5,000 races and was the reigning leader among jockeys for 3 years in a row.
Bill Shoemaker – created a record of 485 races in the year 1953 and won 5 driving titles.
Still surviving through the highest number of fatalities in the year, in 1958 the Jockeys’ Guild announced a supplemental insurance plan for jockeys with US$10,000 death benefits for both active and retired jockeys.
The year ended with Eddie Arcaro surviving a sudden fall from his horse, Black Hills at the Belmont Stakes. He also marked the event by winning six races. “The helmet saved me,” said Arcaro – Jockeysguild
In the real world, history is created and repeated, as we see each passing year, this magnificent “sport of kings” has evolved many times over. With the viral age, this sport can be accessed from the comfort of your home in any form. Games, videos, broadcasts and replays can be viewed if you missed a race or are unable to visit the track on that particular day. Horse games are available online to simulate and bet on for entertainment. Moreover? You can really know what a world class jockey is going through as he pilots the thousand pound horse beast. Be a jockey and experience the heart-pounding adrenaline rush as the crowd cheers you to victory. Play against friends or with a community of horse racing fans around the world.