01/26/2007 1:00AM

Turn-of-the-century jocks took talent overseas

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Last Monday night, the Eclipse Award for outstanding journeyman rider of 2006 was presented to Edgar Prado, who beat out Russell Baze and Garrett Gomez for the honor.

That lineup of finalists, each trying for his first such award, came about in large part because five Hall of Fame members who began the decade in the saddle - Jerry Bailey, Pat Day, Chris McCarron, Laffit Pincay Jr., and Gary Stevens - have since retired. The five accounted for a combined 18 Eclipse Awards for outstanding journeyman jockey.

The departure from the scene by these riders, along with Hall of Fame members Eddie Delahoussaye and Julie Krone, in a short span of time is not without precedent. One hundred years ago, many of the top jockeys who began the 20th century were gone.

But, unlike their counterparts in the 21st century, these riders did not hang it up because of injuries or a desire to retire. They left to ride in England, France, Austria, Hungary, or Russia because anti-gambling laws had reduced the number of racetracks operating in the United States from 320 in 1897 to fewer than three dozen by the end of 1907.

Test your knowledge of the great American riders from a century ago.

1. Flamboyant Tod Sloan was at the top of his game when the 20th century began. In 1898 he accepted 362 mounts, winning with 166 of them - a remarkable 45 percent.

Sloan had ridden with success in England during brief periods in 1897 and 1898, and he rode the entire season there in 1899, winning with 31 percent of his mounts.

But Sloan's wild temperament, heavy gambling, and womanizing quickly caught up with him, and he was soon banned by the British Jockey Club. The American champion jockey of 1898 took his place and became one of the most beloved riders in English racing history. Name him.

2. This champion American jockey was one of the many famous riders tutored by "Father" Bill Daly, a trainer whose reputation for turning young boys into jockeys far surpassed his abilities with horses.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1884, this future Hall of Fame rider nicknamed "Winnie" ran away from home at age 10 and rode his first winner when he was 12.

At his peak, he was the regular rider for August Belmont, William Collins Whitney, and John E. Madden. Name him.

3. When many of the top trainers consider you one of the greatest, if not the greatest, riders of all times, it's not a good idea to stab a rich owner with a knife, nearly killing him.

But that's what this future Hall of Fame rider did to lumber giant Robert L. Thomas at Barn 27 at Sheepshead Bay in 1909. Seven months later, a jury found the jockey not guilty by virtue of self-defense.

The rider later would find himself banned for life by The Jockey Club. Name him.

4. This jockey nearly lost the 1908 Belmont Stakes on undefeated Colin when he allegedly misjudged the finish line. Seven years later, he stamped his name in the history books when he was aboard Regret, the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby.

He was involved in another controversial race in 1913 when he rode Whisk Broom II, the first horse to win the Metropolitan, Suburban, and Brooklyn handicaps in the same year.

Whisk Broom II's official time for the 1 1/4 miles of the Suburban was 2:00 flat, a world record that was not broken for 34 years. The clocking was widely disputed by horsemen who had timed the race themselves. Name the rider.

5. This African American jockey began riding in 1898 at age 17, and in just four years had two victories in the Kentucky Derby under his belt.

He was a fan favorite at tracks throughout the Midwest and was known as the king of Chicago racing.

He left America to ride in Russia in 1904, where he finished as the leading rider that year. He went on to win the Russian Derby four times.

He retired in 1930 to a successful career as a trainer in France. Name him.

ANSWERS

1. In 1898, at age 17 and in only his third year as a jockey, Danny Maher was champion American rider. By 1900, he was riding in, and winning, some of the country's most prestigious races, but in September that year, he packed up his tack and moved to England. He promptly won with his first two mounts.

During the next 12 years, Maher became one of the most popular riders in English racing history. He rode three winners of the English Derby - Cicero, Rock Sand, and Spearmint - and was victorious in the other classics, including the 2000 Guineas, aboard Sweeper II.

Between 1900 and 1913, Maher rode 1,421 winners from 5,624 mounts. In 1907, he was paid the equivalent of $50,000 a year for his services, the highest of any rider in Great Britain.

Maher was elected to the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in 1955.

2. Winfield O'Connor rode his first winner at Brighton Beach Racetrack in New York in 1897, but first gained national attention the following year at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. The next year, he was the leading rider at the inaugural Tanforan meeting near San Francisco.

In 1901, O'Connor won with 253 of his mounts (24 percent) to lead the nation. At the end of 1902, August Belmont sent him to France to ride for Alphonse Rothschild, among others.

O'Connor became a successful rider in Europe and Great Britain, turning to steeplechasing when he could no longer keep his weight down.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1956.

3. In his 1926 autobiography, "The Spell of the Turf," Hall of Fame trainer Sam Hildreth called Carroll "Cal" Shilling the greatest rider he ever saw.

Shilling began riding at bush tracks in the Southwest before coming east at age 19 in 1904. He was the nation's leading money-winning rider in 1910.

In 1912, his final year of riding, he scored perhaps his most dramatic win, holding a tired Worth together through the stretch to win the 38th Kentucky Derby.

The Jockey Club did not renew Shilling's license after 1912. The great rider worked for much of the next decade as assistant trainer for Harvey Guy Bedwell, who trained for Commander John K.L. Ross.

Shilling deserves much of the credit for the success of Ross horses, including Sir Barton, and for the development of jockey Earl Sande.

Shilling went downhill in later life and was found dead under a horse van at Belmont Park in 1950. He was 64.

Shilling was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1970.

4. Jockey Joe Notter won purses totaling $464,322 in 1908, a world record that stood for 15 years.

Notter began as a hot walker at Gravesend Race Track on Coney Island, N.Y., in 1900. He was 10 years old. Three years later, he rode his first winner, the 100-1 Hydrangia at nearby Morris Park.

In addition to Regret, Colin, and Whisk Broom II, Notter also piloted future Hall of Famers Maskette and Peter Pan and champions Sweep and Pennant. He retired from riding in 1918 and trained for the next 20 years.

Notter was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1963.

5. Jimmy Winkfield won back-to-back runnings of the Kentucky Derby in 1901 on His Eminence and 1902 on Alan-a-Dale. He won 220 races in 1901, including the Clark Handicap and Tennessee Derby.

Winkfield's name has come to the forefront again recently with the publication of two books: "Wink" by Ed Hotaling (2005) and "Black Maestro" by Joe Drape (2006).

Winkfield was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.