02/25/2015 1:59PM

Former jockey Lambert dies at 74

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Benoit & Associates
Jerry Lambert won 2,535 Thoroughbred races during his riding career.

Jerry Lambert, best known for riding Hall of Famer Native Diver in the 1960s and for winning a celebrated match race aboard Convenience against Typecast in 1972, was found dead Monday at Magali Farms in Santa Ynez, Calif., where he had been working, according to a release put out Tuesday by Santa Anita. Lambert was 74.

Lambert, nicknamed “Clyde” after the city in Kansas where he was born, rode Native Diver to consecutive victories in the Hollywood Gold Cup from 1965-67. In 1972, he won a match race at Hollywood Park aboard Convenience, who just held off the late charge of Typecast and Bill Shoemaker.

“He was a great rider,” Don Pierce, the Hall of Fame rider who retired in 1984, told the Santa Anita publicity department. “I rode with him from the time he came to California in 1961 until I retired. Any time he was in a race, you had to deal with him because he didn’t make mistakes. He was very quiet, very low-key, and he’d come and beat you when you’d least expect it. He was a lot like Shoe. He was very quiet to be around and to ride with.”

Trainer Tom Proctor, whose father, Willard, trained Convenience, praised Lambert’s winning ride in the match race.

“Not too many people outrode Shoemaker, but Jerry had him in his hip pocket that day,” said Proctor, who was a 16-year-old groom at the time. “He had Shoe in a bad spot going into the first turn and again when they turned for home. He had Shoe where he wanted him, and he drifted out, so Shoe had to come inside.”

Lambert’s other major wins included three wins each in the Del Mar Debutante and Del Mar Derby; two wins each in the Vanity Handicap, Hollywood Turf Invitational, and Malibu; and victories in the Gamely, Sunset, Del Mar Oaks, Del Mar Futurity, Californian, Hollywood Oaks, Norfolk, Oak Leaf, Eddie Read, and San Fernando, among many others.

Lambert was the leading rider at Del Mar in 1967, won the Santa Anita riding title at the 1967-68 meeting, and led the Oak Tree meeting in 1972. He won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1971. He won 2,535 Thoroughbred races.

Lambert did not ride from 1979-81 and rode just a handful of horses in the early 1980s before the years 1987-89, when his mounts earned more than $1 million each year. He was severely injured in an accident at Pleasanton in 1987 that resulted in a broken cheekbone, broken ankle, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung.

Late in his career, Lambert rode Arabians. He was the winner of the 1995 Darley Award, given annually to America’s top rider of Arabian-breds. He finished his riding career at Los Alamitos, where he dominated the track’s Arabian-bred standings from 1994-98.

Funeral services are pending.

Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Cashed a lot of bets on Lambert, great on the lead , but always looked for Jerry on a closer, public tended to think of him more as a speed rider ('Diver) ect. he liked to come from behind more. Never knew JL was hurt up north,,.... ................................Hof..... I say so, but never went back east much.....................
Luxury_Agent More than 1 year ago
Jerry died peacefully in his sleep on 2-23-2015, at Magali Farms in Santa Ynez, where he lived, and trained for many years. Jerry was found by our daughter Lacey Lambert. RIP Poppa - you will be forever in our loving memories, heart & soul throughout eternity - Love you now, then and forever. Thank you for the best gift you ever gave me - our daughter Lacey, she will miss and think of you every hour of the day - until you meet again. You must be so proud of how Lacey has made all your arrangements, picked out your beautiful resting place, it is so peaceful, under a lovely oak tree, with a beautiful view, I think you will be happy there. Lacey is also having a beautiful headstone with your handsome face on it. Lacey will post to the public where you are buried so those who loved you can stop by and say hello. || Below is a link to watch a great ride that this great man rode - the MATCH RACE winner take All - Jerry rode Convenience and Bill Shoemaker rode Typecast - Jerry is in the orange, black & white silks | I still smile when I watch this race, baby Lace and I, remember your stories well about your strategy in riding this race, to say the least your ride was almost as amazing as YOU. Love you 4 ever - Poppa - CAL. | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4F8pDHCErw
Deborah Thorsen More than 1 year ago
May his sprit always continue to enjoy and be overlooking the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley he loved from his box above the training track at Magali Farms.
Bob Smith More than 1 year ago
From a very, very good friend of Jerry's.....Don Ross. Out of all the arguments that can break out in the jock's room, I never once saw Jerry in one of those.
Bob Rose More than 1 year ago
Give Don Ross my best regards, please Bob. I know he and Jerry were close friends, as was anyone that was lucky enough to be around Donnir and his sweet wife. Nothin' like the good ole days on the backstretch.
Mr. Mongo98 More than 1 year ago
I never had a problem betting Lambert horses. RIP Jerry L.
Steve More than 1 year ago
Jerry Lambert was one of my all-time favorite riders. With his mustache, goatee and undeniable "strut" when he walked, he made me want to be a jockey. Man, he could ride. The last time I saw him at Santa Anita, he was very thin. RIP
Joe Garcia More than 1 year ago
RIP Jerry Lambert you were one of my Dad (RIP) all-time favorite riders. He spoke of you along with Shoemaker and Pincay and Baeza because he remembered all the times that his bets won because of your riding. I remember one time back in the mid 90's when we lived in Bakersfield , California and I believe it was on a Wednesday at Santa Anita that you were riding a horse in the 1st race. When he saw Lambert , he nearly cried but I saw him get teary eyed and then he told me the stories of the times that all four of you came through for my Family when I a little boy and because of that we paid rent and got food on the table. That Wednesday we went to the otb at The Kern County Fairgrounds and he said watch him soon and pay attention , and sure enough you came through again. I remember your name because of my Dad and because of the praise he had for you. Thank You Jerry Lambert for your wins and God Bless you and may you RIP and if you happen to see him my Dad up there in heaven please tell him I miss him.
Charlotte Farmer More than 1 year ago
The news is so sad today and even sadder is that Jerry is not in the Hall of Fame alongside his beloved Native Diver.
mike More than 1 year ago
Very sorry to hear of Mr. Lambert's passing.
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
I rode behind him several times in 1957, at Tigh Valley, Oregon, and than Tillamook, Oregon, where I won a Derby and got kissed by Bonnie Guitar, and he went south to stardom, in his quiet Jerry Lambert way. I remember, I had a pet bantee rooster, and Jerry road with me from somewhere to nowhere, but that chicken road in the cab of my old one ton, usually on the gear shift, but he got on Jerry's knee and pooped, we laughed for miles; I haven't seen him since, but I did call him once, when he was in Texas or New Mexico. He will be in a better place!!!!