08/31/2007 12:00AM

History Challenge: Eddie Arcaro


Speaking before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 50 years ago, legendary jockey Eddie Arcaro thanked the members for their invitation and added, "There was a time not too many years ago when the only people I was asked to address were the stewards."

Monday's 103rd running of the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga is a painful reminder of just how reckless the future Hall of Fame rider was in his first decade in the saddle.

During the running of the 1941 Hopeful, the stewards alleged that Arcaro was guilty of "inexcusable rough riding" aboard Shut Out. In the days following the race, the rider was blasted by sportswriters across the country. The Jockey Club suspended Arcaro for the remainder of the year.

The situation was made all that much worse because Arcaro had only the week before completed a 30-day suspension for a similar incident in July at Empire City Racetrack.

And the jockey who many to this day consider one of the sport's

greatest - if not its greatest - had yet to be given what was to be his longest suspension.

Test your knowledge of the rider who went from being a hothead to being known as "Heady Eddie" and "The Master."

1. Throughout his career, Eddie Arcaro was often erroneously referred to as a Kentucky-born rider. But George Edward Arcaro was born on Feb. 19, 1916 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and did not move across the river to Kentucky with his family until he was 11 years old.

As a teenager, Arcaro met horse people while caddying at a local golf course. He eventually began working at nearby Latonia Racecourse before riding his first mount in a recognized race at Thistledown in Ohio in 1931.

At what track did Arcaro score his first lifetime win?

2. Shut Out, the juvenile colt owned by Greentree Stable who Eddie Arcaro rode in the infamous 1941 Hopeful Stakes, would once again cause the famed rider to lose sleep.

Arcaro was the lead contract rider for Greentree's owner, Helen Hay Whitney, and trainer John Gaver. As the 1942 Kentucky Derby approached, Greentree had two major 3-year-old stars. Arcaro was the regular rider for both of them. Name the horse Arcaro chose to ride in the Derby.

3. After more than a decade in the saddle and with more suspensions than he could count, one would have thought that Eddie Arcaro might have learned his lesson and settled down by 1942.

But nine months after coming off a four-month suspension, Arcaro was slammed out of the gate while riding Occupation in the Cowdin Stakes at Aqueduct. He caught up with the jockey who bumped him, Vince Nordase, and slammed into that rider's mount. Immediately after the race, the stewards asked Arcaro what he was trying to do.

"I was trying to kill the Cuban son of a bitch," the rider yelled.

Two days later, The Jockey Club suspended Arcaro for life. How did he get his license back?

4. When he retired in 1962, Eddie Arcaro had ridden a record five winners of the Kentucky Derby, a record six winners of the Preakness Stakes, and a record-tying six winners of the Belmont Stakes. In the more than four decades since, these records still have not been broken.

Who later tied Arcaro for wins in the Kentucky Derby and with whom is Arcaro tied for wins in the Belmont Stakes?

5. Despite his unparalleled success in the saddle, Eddie Arcaro never was a national riding champion in number of winners. He led the nation six years in money won and 10 years in number of stakes wins. And when he retired, he had total lifetime purse winnings of more than $30 million - a world record at the time.

Name the rider who won the most annual national championships for number of winners during the period in which Arcaro was in the saddle (1931-1962).