Between Races: Longdens 4,000 Win Sidelights Why some Rides Are So Durable Consistent Percentage of Winners, Daily Racing Form, 1952-05-26


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lit ""l BETWEEN RACES By Oscar Otis HOLLYWOOD PARK, Inglewood, Calif., May 24. Jockey Johnny Longden bagged his 4,000th winner opening week here, on a Thursday, to be exact, and while this writer was at Pimlico when he accomplished that epochal achievement, we have learned that there were many overtones to the occasion which had the makings of a good story. The last Monday at Golden Gate Fields, the public sensed that Longden was within striking distance of the goal, and they backed his mounts in a prodigious manner which played havoc with the price lines in the races, and many doubled up from race to race. They reasoned that Longden had good horses under him on every occasion, and in this reasoning, they were right. Some statistician figured up that more than 00,000 was wagered on the Longden mounts from the time he rode winner 3,995 until, number 4,000 finally came along. He gave the camera men a merry time of it, too, some 20 filming his every move and every race from the day Hollywood opened until the big event transpired. One individual made. 237 shots in three days before getting what he was after. The news value of Longdens feat was not unappreciated by management, and when Longden fleW to his home one day in Arcadia, the Golden Gaters had a fright that maybe he was taking off to insure that the big news event would occur at Hollywood Park. Longden soothed theni by promising to return the next morning, which he did, but as it happened, it did no good. When Hollywood Park opened, a rush order was sent out for a silver tea service to mark the occasion, a service which was presented him when Fleet Diver, a maiden non-starter from the John D. Hertz stable, finally turned up as number 4,000. AAA Will Longden ever reach the 5,000 mark? It is a question that many are asking these days, and while your guess is as good as the next fellows, it may be said there is some sort of a chance that he will. During the last few years, Longden has denied on more than one occasion that he is ready to retire, and insists that he will keep on riding as long as he can hold his form and stay in the saddle. We believe -he means it, Longden s 4,000th Win Sidelights 4 Why Some Riders Are So Durable Consistent Percentage of Winners Iron Will Aids Saddle Longevity for, although he could retire at any time he chose, he would rather drink of the heady wine of the winners circle than of the equally powerful but less stimulating pastime of clipping coupons. Longden has slowed down in one way only during the past few years, specifically, in" number of horses he will ride. Instead of a full eight-race card, he often will limit himself to five or six, and he insists on taking a vacation every year to visit abroad. He has been to England and Australia, hopes to visit South America and South Africa in the course of his next tours. The Longden reluctance to push himself too far has led to a curious system for some players in California, briefly stated, "If Longden rides in the eighth race the horse he rides is a bet." The theory behind it is that Longden likes to beat the crowd away from the track and get home, and if he decides to wait for the eighth race, he must figure the horse has a better than average chance. Strangely enough, the system has worked rather well during the last few years, although we personally have kept no record of it. AAA There are many reasons why a rider is durable, but lew riders have kept a good consistent percentage of winners after 40, Without having some attributes which have kept them in shape and in top form, often using experience to greater advantage than youthful" prime and ambition., Most of the riders who have endured have had a driving urge to make good from the start, and most have had that urge put into the crucible of hard times. They succeeded despite every setback, and every heartbreak. Most have not had any trouble with their weight. Most of them are highly intelligent. Most of them take care of themselves physically. Most of them are even tempered, slow to anger, and thus do not burn up nervous energy which ages them before their time. Most of them keep abreast of the times and utilize the latest developments. Most of them have a sense of responsibility to the industry and to their profession which at once gives them a high code of ethics. Most of, them feel that their riding knowledge must be imparted to the younger boys, the riders of the future, and spend much of their time helping others learn. And most of them are not afraid of their jobs. AAA Longden fits this picture in every instance. His early struggles were such that only a man of iron determination could overcome them. His weight is no serious problem. Longden does not dissipate, nor does he drink more than a rare social cocktail. His opinions of the intrinsic quality of the horses he rides are eagerly sought by both owners, and trainers. Longden does not touch coffee, preferring tea in the stable kitchen of a morning. Few can recall him as ever being really angry with anybody, and although once in awhile he will get a bit nettled if endangered needlessly in a race, the mood quickly passes and is forgotten. Longden has given more time than most people realize to teaching young riders, and the only time he has even been known to weaken in his respect when the adviceMs wasted on someone who is either too stupid to understand "it or too impressed with his own importance to listen, the latter having happened in a few. cases with a flash apprentice who actually got to believing their own press clippings and disdained a helping hand from anyone. Nor is Longden afraid of his job, or has he ever been. AAA We have been asked, "Will it ever be possible for Longdens lifetime record, what-ever it turns out to be at the end, be broken?" and the answer is yes. Willie Shoemaker, for instance, has been riding for just about three years, and was expected to4each his first 1,000 at the current Hollywood Park meeting until he drew a 10-day suspension for careless riding. Shoemaker, or somebody like him, could turn out to be that rare individual who clips off winners right from the start of his career, and keeps going. Longden didnt get into the big numbers of winners until comparatively late , in his career. The chances of the record being broken also are enhanced because of the greater number of race tracks than formerly, and consequently the more races run per year. With more tracks, the leading riding talent tends to thin out, and competition, tends to become less rugged. Whoever coined the phrase that "records were made to be broken" was dead right insofar as horses are concerned, and the saying applies as well to riders.

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