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
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Performance Consultant Trainee

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Consultant trainee opportunit...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - (Full marketing mix) - Knutsford

£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Knu...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world