all in Legends

One of the great obstacles John Velazquez faced presented itself long before his first mount.

His mother, Margarita, viewed her son as a potential attorney or something along those lines. She vehemently objected when he told her of his desire to become a jockey, aware as she was of the inherent risks. And she was a force to be reckoned with.

“Once upon a time, there was a horse named Kelso. But only once.”

Of the many lines Joe Hirsch wrote for the Daily Racing Form from 1954 until he retired as executive columnist in 2003, perhaps that one says the most about the man. Simple yet elegant, it reflects Hirsch’s immense respect for the noble Kelso and his standing in a tradition-rich sport.

After Rosie Napravnik rode Untapable to victory in the 2014 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, she made a stunning announcement on national television. She was seven weeks pregnant. She was retiring.

She had worked so hard to build her career since 2005. She had finally become a go-to jockey for many prominent trainers. She had been the leading rider at Fair Grounds every year from 2011-2014 and topped the standings at Keeneland in 2013 and 2014.

And now she was retiring? At age 26? At the top of her game?

Havre de Grace possessed talent in such abundance she brought Larry Jones out of retirement to train her in 2011.

During the late 1800s – before the Kentucky Derby had any special prestige, before the Triple Crown races had any significance, and before the Daily Racing Form had published its first issue – African-American jockey Anthony Hamilton was in the midst of dominating the sport of racing like few riders before or since.

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