On Monday, Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye announced his retirement from riding due to neck and head injuries suffered in a spill at Del Mar on August 30, 2002. He said of his injuries: "The doctors said I would have to do more therapy. It's just taking longer and longer. They said it's too dangerous, with the concussion and the neck fracture. It's a culmination of everything. I was hoping I was naive about it, but I guess this is the best thing for me. They said if I did fall and hit my head again, I could be walking around like Muhammad Ali, or end up in a wheelchair. The last couple of months, it's been setting in. This is the right thing to do. I'm disappointed, but I'm a realistic person."
Born in New Iberia, Louisiana, "Eddie D" first rode in match races in bush tracks in that state, working his way to his first recognized race at the Fair Grounds in 1967. His first win came six months later at Evangeline Downs. He became the Midwest circuit's premier rider, winning titles at Fair Grounds, Arlington, Churchill Downs, and Keeneland. In 1978, he led North American riders with 384 wins, capped off with a win in the All Star Jockeys competition at Hollywood, a result which made him decide to move to Southern California where he had remained till retirement. He has won titles at Santa Anita (both winter and Oak Tree), Hollywood, and Del Mar.
He is only the fourth rider to win the Kentucky Derby in consecutive years, accomplishing the feat aboard Gato Del Sol in 1982 and Sunny's Halo in 1983. Five years later he captured the Preakness and Belmont aboard Risen Star. He has won seven Breeders' Cup races, including the 1992 Classic aboard A.P. Indy, and he has won back to back Pacific Classics aboard Tinners Way in 1994 and 1995. He may also be remembered for the big race he lostaboard The Bart in the inaugural Arlington Million, beaten a nose in the final stride by John Henry and jockey Bill Shoemaker.
His success earned him the George Woolf Memorial Award in 1981, a Hall of Fame induction in 1993, and last year an induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He retires with 6,384 victories, 11th on the all-time win list, from 39,213 mounts, with earnings of $195,881,170, sixth all-time.
More info on Eddie Delahoussaye:
- Bio from Racing Hall of Fame
- Bio from Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame
- Bio from Fair Grounds Hall of Fame
- Bio from 2 Bet on Horses
- Stats from NTRA
- Retirement article from DRF
- Ride of Their Lives by Lenny Shulman, includes a chapter on Delahoussaye
Photos ©2003, Cindy Pierson Dulay