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Another legend gone...

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  • Another legend gone...

    5-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Bill Hartack, who rode greats like Tim Tam, Northern Dancer and Majestic Prince, has passed. He was 74.

    Here's the Blood-Horse obit: Hall of Famer Bill Hartack Dead

    And looking back:

    a recap of Northern Dancer's '64 Kentucky Derby win

    Majestic Prince taking the '69 Kentucky Derby over Arts And Letters

  • #2


    RIP, Bill. Thank you for the memories.
    Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & Jennifer Oliver Equine Insurance Specialist

    Comment


    • #3
      So sad to lose him.
      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

      Comment


      • #4
        I remember picking Majestic Prince for the Derby and my father picking Arts & Letters. Great race! RIP, Bill.

        Comment


        • #5
          Ah, when Bill was a superstar it was perhaps still the height of jocks being the modern equivalent of today's football / basketball / baseball heros all in one. I found this one from almost 50-years ago amusing on his playboy antics of the era ...

          Time Magazine Feb. 10, 1958 'Bully & the Beasts'

          excerpt

          Though he enjoys his fame and his riches, Willie Hartack has not yet found how to be comfortable with either. From his $50,000 ranch house, among the garish candy-colored villas of Miami, Bill indulges his passing whims (e.g., water skiing and skindiving). Visitors make him nervous as they leave burning cigarettes on expensive table tops and track sand on lush new carpets, stare at his specially commissioned mural of knights in armor, gawk at the somber black decor of the master bedroom with its giant closet of 40 suits, or at the bookshelves stocked only with Racing Form chart books. Hartack walks around the house like a new bride, emptying ashtrays, positioning furniture, fidgeting over the least speck of dust. He is strictly an afternoon-and-night man, and his nightly dates require almost as much concentration as riding in horse races. It would not do to let things get mixed up, and the very idea of marriage is disturbing. "My God!" says Willie. "After three years in Miami, I know hundreds and hundreds of dames. I might have to give them up. It's a helluva problem."

          For Hartack, unlike many of his colleagues, weight is never a problem. He eats outlandish combinations of foods—potato chips, pickles and ice cream, for example; yet he seldom needs to glance at a jockey's sweatbox. Nor does he need much sleep; no matter how late he bids his date good night, he sits up for an hour or two examining the past-performance charts to prepare himself for the next day in the saddle.
          Committing himself on the track too soon would be, in Bachelor Hartack's eyes, as simple-minded a mistake as, say, getting into the "married man's position" at home. "Maybe I'll get married in a year," he says somberly, "but there are three girls I'm thinking of. I haven't met 'em yet, but it's all arranged and I'll meet 'em in the next three months. It's the same as it is with racing. No matter how good a horse you're on, you're always looking for a better one."

          Comment


          • #6
            He should have won the Triple Crown with Tim Tam, a wonderfully underrated horse who managed to finish second in the Belmont on a fractured sesamoid.

            Glimmer, you're right. Jockeys were truly national sports heroes back in the day. Was it when they all became Latin that they lost the spotlight, or did racing as a whole do the same dive?
            "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
            Thread killer Extraordinaire

            Comment


            • #7
              First. . .RIP Mr. Hartack.

              "Billy's" repuation superseded him in later years.

              The "supposed story" is that when he was at the top of his field, a railbird shouted an obsenity to which "Billy" replied by dismounting his steed, jumping over the fence and pounding on the jerk

              It took "Billy" a while to regain his superstar status as a result.

              Anybody have a clue what track or year the "supposed incident" took place?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by wildernessD View Post
                Anybody have a clue what track or year the "supposed incident" took place?
                I wouldn't doubt some variation of that story - most accounts regarding him which delve deeper then just his wins indicate that he could be very difficult with other people. Perhaps he was the original angry young man

                Jay Hovdey at the Daily Racing Form did this great article on him from last evening. An excerpt:

                Hartack was a big name when racing was a big game, on a par with baseball and collegiate football, and he reigned as the fourth head on the sport's Mount Rushmore alongside Eddie Arcaro, Bill Shoemaker, and Johnny Longden.

                One race later, after losing on a favorite, the same Hartack was surly, mean, and impatient, a sudden Mr. Hyde wearing Dr. Jekyll's white pants and boots.

                "He does indulge himself in the vilest of black moods, during which he refuses to speak to close friends, scowls and glowers at almost everyone," wrote Hirsch, retired now as Daily Racing Form executive columnist.
                The best horse he rode, per the above article, was disclosed to a fishing buddy as being Majestic Prince and has been widely reported even at the time of Bill's opinion "that the owner ruined him running in the Belmont after he bowed winning the Preakness". MP was owned by Canadian oilman Frank McMahon.

                If there is any irony to found Majestic Prince would be the sire to Coastal who upset the great Spectacular Bid in the 1979 Belmont Stakes.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Glimmerglass View Post
                  For Hartack, unlike many of his colleagues, weight is never a problem. He eats outlandish combinations of foods—potato chips, pickles and ice cream, for example; yet he seldom needs to glance at a jockey's sweatbox. Nor does he need much sleep; no matter how late he bids his date good night, he sits up for an hour or two examining the past-performance charts to prepare himself for the next day in the saddle.
                  I hate to speculate about the deceased, especially such a legend... but this really makes me think about how prevalent drugs may have been in the earlier days among the jockeys.

                  I read this excerpt, and the first thing that springs to mind is that is sure as heck sounds like he was on speed or something similar. Combine that with all the documentation of erratic behavior, and well, it doesn't seem surprising that a jockey of that era would drop dead of a heart attack at 74.

                  Don't smite me, Mr. Hartack!!! I'm just wondering how much of a problem drug abuse to make weight might have been back then, or still is today...
                  Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Texarkana View Post
                    I hate to speculate about the deceased, especially such a legend... but this really makes me think about how prevalent drugs may have been in the earlier days among the jockeys.
                    Then again there are some - and we are talking just a few - folks who do have the natural metabolism to burn that off with ease. Plus I doubt the ice cream he was consuming was as fattening as say today's overly enhanced offerrings of Ben & Jerry's "Stephen Colbert" offering

                    For other jocks there were extreme means by which you could eat like crazy and not gain weight: example jocks who would swallow tape worms to reduce weight. Sick indeed but true. That was more of the Seabiscuit era.

                    The DRF story did shed more light on his anger or at least competive approach being an offspring from his abusive father who was "only generous with the belt".

                    Other jocks weren't so lucky with eating as I recall the famous story of Laffit Pincay, Jr.:

                    Trainer D. Wayne Lukas was the first to tell the story, from his own observation of Pincay on a coast-to-coast flight they took. Came time to eat, and Pincay accepted only one peanut. He cut the peanut in half, kept slicing the half, and subsisted on the half-peanut from New York to California. Lukas said he had never seen such force of character.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I wonder where the other two Kentucky Derby trophies were?

                      Photo: AP file May 24, 1964 Bill Hartack and three of his Derby trophies

                      That would be 20 days after winning the 1964 KY Derby aboard Northern Dancer and 8 days after he won the 88th Preakness Stakes aboard the same

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        This accounts for one of the trophies: at that point he hadn't won the KD with Majestic Prince yet (1969).

                        He was a true bad-a$$ on the fringe of the rat-pack era. My oh my how some things have changed since then.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It would not do to let things get mixed up, and the very idea of marriage is disturbing. "My God!" says Willie. "After three years in Miami, I know hundreds and hundreds of dames. I might have to give them up. It's a helluva problem."
                          and:
                          "Maybe I'll get married in a year," he says somberly, "but there are three girls I'm thinking of. I haven't met 'em yet, but it's all arranged and I'll meet 'em in the next three months.
                          This is probably the clearest explanation of the difference between 'dames' and 'girls' that I have ever seen.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Yes, Vineyridge, Tim Tam should have won the triple crown, I remember watching him too.

                            Bill Hartack was my favorite growing up. My dad liked Arcaro, so we would argue about who was better

                            Hartack was a wonderful rider. Whether he liked or disliked the press, was his affair. He lived his life his way.

                            Rest in Peace, you were one of the all time greats!
                            http://www.herselffarm.com
                            Proud of my Hunter Breeding Princesses
                            "Grief is the price we all pay for love," Gretchen Jackson (1/29/07) In Memory of Barbaro

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Oops.

                              I just did some googling, and Mr. Hartack did not ride Tim Tam in the Triple Crown. He had broken his leg right before the Ky Derby, and Ismael Valasquez (sp) had the ride for the TC.

                              I also read that Mr. Hartack spent his last years working for Louisiana Downs, wherever that is. He never married.
                              "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                              Thread killer Extraordinaire

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                                I also read that Mr. Hartack spent his last years working for Louisiana Downs, wherever that is.
                                Was that supposed to be a ha-ha? That track (Harrah's Louisiana Downs Casino & Racetrack) is well known with their $500k Super Derby race - won this year by Going Ballistic.

                                Randy Moss (ESPN) has his reflections on Bill Hartack

                                excerpt:

                                Hartack said he was working on an autobiography, his story told in his words, his way.

                                The book never got written, or at least was never published. When Hartack died this week at age 74, he was as much an enigma as the day he retired more than 30 years earlier. In an era when horse racing was a popular mainstream sport, the passing of the all-time top Derby rider would have been bigger news than the shooting death of a Pro Bowl football safety. But in the Atlanta Constitution this week, Hartack's obituary was 196 words long; the obit of the inventor of Gatorade received 729 words.

                                Interested in the Hartack of recent vintage, I contacted Roy Wood and Johnnie Johnson, who worked side-by-side with Hartack in the stewards stand at Louisiana Downs the past two years.

                                He might not have given me an interview, but the Bill Hartack they describe is not the one you've heard about.

                                Comment

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