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Johnny Longden

From Academic Kids

John Eric Longden, born February 14, 1907 in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England - died February 14, 2003 in Banning, California, was a Hall of Fame jockey.

At the age of two, Johnny Longden's family emigrated to Canada, settling in Taber, Alberta. As a young man he worked in the mining industry but with a love of horses and horse-racing, his small stature led him to leave Canada in 1927 to seek opportunities as a jockey in California's burgeoning racing scene. Based at Santa Anita Park, by 1956 he had become thoroughbred racing's winningest rider, breaking the record of 4,870 wins by British jockey Sir Gordon Richards (1904-1988). During his illustrious career, Longden rode many of the great thoroughbreds of the day and in 1943 he captured the elusive Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes aboard Count Fleet.

Johnny Longden was the United States' leading jockey in races won in 1938, 1947, and again in 1948 and was the leading jockey in purses won in 1943 and 1945. He was voted the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1952 that honors a rider whose career and personal conduct exemplifies the very best example of participants in the sport of thoroughbred racing. In 1958, Longden was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and retired the following year as the jockey with the most wins in racing history with 6,032 victories from his 32,413 mounts.

Following his retirement from riding, Longden turned to training and became the only person to ever win the Kentucky Derby as both a jockey and trainer when he captured with 1969 Derby with Majestic Prince. Longden was inducted into the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame in 1976 and in 1994 he was recognized further by the North American racing industry with a Special Eclipse Award.

Johnny Longden died on his 96th birthday at his home in Banning, California. His body was cremated and his ashes given to a friend.

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