Obituary: Eddie Arcaro

George Edward Arcaro, jockey: born Cincinnati, Ohio 19 February 1916; twice married (one son, one daughter); died Miami, Florida 14 November 1997.

Riding for 31 seasons (1931-61), when horse-racing in America was at the height of its popularity, the jockey Eddie Arcaro stood out as the sport's most famous and popular participant. Known as "The Master" for his riding ability, Arcaro was as tough as they come in a day when the sport, void of today's technological advances, was most unforgiving. At the time of his death, he still held the record for career earnings (of $30m) and was second only to Johnny Longden in the number of his victories.

Arcaro was a record-setter. He is the only American rider to have riden two winners of the Triple Crown - the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes - Whirlaway (1941) and Citation (1948). His five Kentucky Derby victories have been matched only by Bill Hartack. He also rode a record six Preakness winners and a co-record five runnings of the Belmont Stakes.

A powerful rider, he was fearless as well and would not hesitate to put his rivals in a tight spot. He was ruled off the racecourse for a year for nearly putting another rider, Vincent Nodarse, over the rail, in a race in New York in 1942. Asked by the stewards about the incident, Arcaro replied: "Are you blind? I was trying to kill the Cuban son of a bitch."

Only at the request of the powerful owner of Greentree Stables, Mrs Harry Payne Whitney, was he allowed to ride again. Mrs Whitney, very ill at the time, wrote to the US Jockey Club chairman William Woodward and told him she wanted to see Arcaro ride again in her colours before her death. It was a request that Woodward, a member of America's social elite along with Mrs Whitney, could not deny.

Arcaro was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1916, the son of an Italian immigrant cab driver. His father eventually became a bookmaker, which gave Arcaro his first introduction to horse-racing. The family moved when he was 11 to northern Kentucky, near the old Latonia race-track, and soon young Eddie was knocking on racing's door.

He was a stablehand before being hired as an apprentice rider by the trainer Odie Clelland, developer of many successful jockeys. He then joined the trainer Alvin Booker's stable and went to Ohio where he began his riding career in 1931. His first victory was recorded at Agua Caliente race-track in Mexico on 14 January 1932. His victory total would eventually reach 4,779.

These were the days when trainers virtually owned riders, and while Arcaro's contract remained with Booker, his career was going nowhere. But another trainer, Clarence Davison, saw great potential in him and afer buying his contract, took him to Chicago, where he immediately doubled his win total the following season, in 1933. The Calumet Farm stable bought Arcaro's contract a year later for $6,000 and his future was assured.

When he retired, Eddie Arcaro spent most of his time playing golf, perhaps his greatest love. He also worked for a time as part of a presenting crew for ABC television, and was always a great representative to the general public for the sport.

- Dan Farley

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable