06/21/2009 12:00AM

Buckie Fires dies in Arkansas at 71


Buckie Fires, a retired outrider and the oldest brother in a family of horsemen that includes retired jockeys Earlie and Jackie Fires and trainer Jinks Fires, died Saturday morning in a hospital near Rivervale, Ark. He was 71.

Fires, who fell and broke his hip three weeks ago, died of complications from that accident, said Jackie Fires. He went into the hospital last Wednesday. A funeral will be held Monday at Murphy's Funeral Home in Lepanto, Ark. There is a visitation at 10 a.m., with the funeral to follow at 11 a.m.

Buckie Fires worked as an outrider at a number of tracks around the country, including Arlington Park, Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Louisiana Downs, and Oaklawn Park. He retired from the track at age 62, after spending 10 straight seasons as an outrider at Saratoga.

"He had one picture here of when he picked up Alydar after a race in Hot Springs," said Jackie Fires. "He always valued that quite a bit."

Buckie Fires began his career as a rodeo hand, which led to a career in racing.

"He had to work on the racetrack to support his habit of rodeoing," said Jackie Fires.

Buckie Fires first galloped horses, and eventually began working as an outrider. He is the oldest of 11 children, most of whom worked, or continue to work, in racing. In addition to Earlie, Jackie, and Jinks, Pedro is an assistant starter; Mannie is an exercise rider; Teddy is a blacksmith; and Larry is a retired blacksmith. Buckie Fires is survived by all of his siblings, as well as his wife, Pat, and his son, Richard, who is a blacksmith at Louisiana Downs.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, P.O. Box 803, Elmhurst, IL 60126.