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Johnny Longden 1907 - 2003

Johnny Longden, the only person to win the Kentucky Derby as both a jockey and trainer passed away on February 14, 2003.

Dateline: 02/15/2003

Legendary jockey Johnny Longden, winner of the 1943 Triple Crown on Count Fleet and the only person to win the Kentucky Derby as both a jockey and trainer, passed away Friday February 14, 2003. It was his 96th birthday. He died in his sleep at his home in Banning, California. Longden had been in poor health for several years and had a stroke last August which left him bedridden.


Autographed photo giveaway from Santa Anita celebrating Longden's last ride.
He was the best jockey of his day and was the all time leader in winners at the time of his retirement in 1966, still ranking 14th today. His riding career ran from 1927 to 1966 with a total of 32,413 mounts and 6,032 winners, a winning percentage of 18.6%. He rode many great horses such as Swaps and Whirlaway, but always considered Count Fleet to be the best he ever rode. Five times he was the top money earning jockey in the country and was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1958. He was based in California and won the Santa Anita and Hollywood Derbies five time each and the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup four times each.

He retired from racing in 1966 at age 59. His last ride was at Santa Anita in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap aboard George Royal, a race that has been voted the greatest moment in the track's history. You can read a detailed account of that race here.


Majestic Prince was the Kentucky Derby winner trained by Longden. (from a postcard)
After his retirement from riding, he went on to have success as a trainer. His best horse was Majestic Prince who won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1969, making him the old person to ever win the Kentucky Derby as both a jockey and trainer.

More info on Johnny Longden:

Photos from the author's collection

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