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.