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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

JOHNNY LONGDEN

Inducted in 1958

Member Details

Date of Birth: February 14, 1907
Place of Birth: Wakefield, England
Date of Passing: February 14, 2003
Sport: Jockey Racing
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1943

Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes) - Count Fleet (jockey)

1943 & 1945

Leading jockey in purses

1952

George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award

1969

Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes - Majestic Prince (trainer)

Honoured Member JOHNNY LONGDEN
Inspire

Story

For the man who retired as horse racing's winningest jockey, Johnny Longden's early life and career were marked by more near misses and missteps than first-place finishes. He was born in England in 1907 and left for Canada with his mother to reunite with his father who was already working in an Alberta mine. Luckily, they missed their first sailing, on the Titanic. After settling in Canada, Longden rejected a bleak future in the mines and set out to try his hand at horse racing. In 1927, his first year as a jockey, he won only $980 in purse money. His annual purse earnings finally reached $100,000 in 1935. In the following 32 years they never dipped below that mark and eight times exceeded $1 million. He was the leading jockey in purse winnings in the U.S. in 1943 and 1945. But, more than money, Longden won races, lots of them. He was the winningest jockey in the 1938, 1947, and 1948 seasons. In 1943, he had his most successful moments winning the three Triple Crown races, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, aboard Count Fleet. Longden raced much of his career in California and, in 1952, the Santa Anita Racetrack awarded him the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. On September 3, 1956, at Del Mar, California, Longden won his 4,871st race breaking the mark for jockeys set by Britain's Sir Gordon Richards. The record endured until Willie Shoemaker bettered it in 1970. The record came in Longden's best season. He rode 320 winners that year, totalling $1,609,627 in purses. Although he rode most of his career in the U.S., Longden was in Vancouver in 1965 for his 6,000th career win aboard Prince Scorpion at Exhibition Park. His 32,413th and final ride came at Santa Anita on March 12, 1966. At age 59, Longden rode George Royal to victory by a nose in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap in front of 60,792 spectators. It was a storybook finish to a record-setting career. Longden retired as the winningest jockey in horse racing history, with 6,032 wins, 4,914 seconds and 4,273 thirds. He won nearly 19 percent of his rides and earned $24,665,800 in purses during his career. Longden spent the next 23 years as a trainer. In 1967, Majestic Prince won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, making Longden the only person ever to have won the Kentucky Derby as both a jockey and a trainer. In 1994, his career was celebrated when he was honoured with a Special Eclipse Award. He is also a member of the Horse Racing Halls of Fame in both Canada and the United States.


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