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EDDIE ARCARO

Eddie Arcaro is one of the best-known jockeys in the history of horse racing, called "the Master" for his riding skills, good sense of pace and the ability to switch his whip from one hand to the other during a race. Eddie rode five Kentucky Derby winners -- a record he shares with Bill Hartack -- a record six Preakness winners and six Belmont winners. Born on February 19, 1916, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Pasquale and Josephine, Italian immigrants, George Edward Arcaro weighed just three pounds at birth; because of this, he was smaller than his classmates and was rejected when he tried out for a spot on a baseball team. His full height would reach five-foot, two inches. His father held a number of jobs, including taxi driver and operator of an illegal liquor enterprise during Prohibition. Eddie left school at 14 to become an horse exercise boy for 75 cents a day, and at 15 he became a jockey. He won his first race in 1932 at the Agua Caliente racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico, and his first Kentucky Derby in 1938 when he was only 22, aboard Lawrin. He also won the Suburban Handicap eight times, the Wood Memorial Stakes nine times and the Jockey Club Gold Cup ten times. At Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, he won the 1953 Queen's Plate (Canada's most prestigious race); at Laurel Park Racecourse in Laurel, Maryland, he won the 1954 Washington, D.C. International against the best horses and riders from Europe.

"I believe Kelso was the best horse I ever rode," Eddie said. "He was Horse of the Year five straight years (1960-64), and that takes a lot of doing. And he hooked everybody, every place, on every kind of racetrack. He just was the best horse. Sprint, go a distance, run all day, He could do it all."

Active in jockey affairs, Eddie was a driving force behind the creation of the Jockeys' Guild. He retired in 1962, due to severe bursitis in his arm.

During his career Eddie rode in 24,092 races and won 4,779, with record setting earnings of $30,039,543.

After working as a television commentator on racing for CBS and ABC, he was a public relations officer for the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas before retiring to Miami, Florida. He also worked as a spokesman for the Buick Motor Division of General Motors, for which he voiced the well-known phrase "If you price a Buick, you'll buy a Buick." For many years, he was the proprietor of a popular Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills.

Eddie Arcaro died in 1997. He spent his last hours with his wife, son and sister at his condominium in Miami. His body was cremated and his ashes were inurned in the columbarium at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Cemetery in Miami.

 

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