08/30/2007 11:00PM

History Challenge answers


1. Eddie Arcaro first began working at a racetrack in 1929 at the age of 13. Like most young boys at the track, he did about everything there was to do, eventually working himself up to exercise rider.

The following year, after wintering at Hialeah in Florida, Arcaro moved to the Ohio circuit where he got his first chance to compete as an apprentice jockey. By the fall of 1931, he had yet to ride his first winner when he returned to Latonia in Kentucky, where he rode only a few mounts a week.

None of his mounts got close, but in his 1951 autobiography, "I Ride to Win," Arcaro recalled, "I was happy to have the opportunity to ride anything."

Finally, riding for trainer Alvin Booker at Agua Caliente Racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico, Arcaro scored his first win aboard a colt named Eagle Bird on Jan. 14, 1932.

This was a big year for not only Arcaro, but for the fabled Baja California racetrack. Just two months later, the "Wonder Horse from Down Under," Phar Lap, made his North American debut a winning one in the Agua Caliente Handicap.

2. When Greentree Stable's Devil Diver won the Phoenix Handicap, beating the older Whirlaway, in his first start of 1942, Eddie Arcaro said he secretly made up his mind that this was his Derby horse. (This was an important Derby for Arcaro, because a win would have given him three and tied him with the great Isaac Murphy for most Derby wins.)

A month later, Arcaro rode Shut Out to a smashing victory in the Blue Grass Stakes, but when it came time to decide who he wanted to ride in the 68th Kentucky Derby, he stuck with Devil Diver.

As late as two days before the Derby, trainer John Gaver tried to change Arcaro's mind, but the rider wouldn't budge. Shut Out won the Derby, with Devil Diver sixth. In the long run, Arcaro was right. Shut Out was never a champion, but Devil Diver was champion older horse at both ages 4 and 5.

3. On Sept. 26, 1942, The Jockey Club revoked the license of Eddie Arcaro indefinitely. "I was the highest paid jockey, yet I wasn't a jockey anymore," Arcaro would later write.

Unlike most jockeys, Arcaro was good with finances and had invested wisely. Money was not the problem. Not being able to ride was.

He remained in the employ of Greentree as an exercise boy - at half salary - and played a lot of golf. Arcaro said he considered going to court to get his license back, but decided against it. (It was another 20 years before jockeys began seriously challenging suspensions in the court system.)

Thanks in large part to the power and prestige of Helen Hay Whitney, The Jockey Club gave in and reinstated Arcaro one year following his ban.

4. In 1969, riding Majestic Prince, William Hartack tied Eddie Arcaro's record of five Kentucky Derby winners. Arcaro retired tied with James McLaughlin, a 19th century Hall of Famer, with six wins apiece in the Belmont Stakes.

Arcaro's announcement of his retirement at age 46 in April 1962 caught everyone by surprise. He was still a strong competitor and was the regular rider for two-time Horse of the Year Kelso, who would go on to three more Horse of the Year titles without Arcaro.

5. Eddie Arcaro always stressed quality over quantity. He often took the winter off, and in later years, severely restricted the number of mounts he accepted.

No single jockey dominated in annual number of winners during Arcaro's time like Russell Baze has done since 1992. William Shoemaker and William Hartack each won the national title for number of winners four times between 1953 and 1960. Johnny Longden and John Adams each won three championships for number of wins in the 1930s and 1940s.