Legendary jockey Jean Cruguet,
who etched his name into Thoroughbred racing history by riding Karen Taylor’s
Seattle Slew to a sweep of the Triple Crown in 1977, will come out of
retirement briefly to ride at Arlington Park next Friday, one day prior to the
29th running of the Grade I Arlington Million – centerpiece race of the 2011
Arlington Park season Aug. 13.
Cruguet, 72, a native of France,
rode extensively on both sides of the Atlantic
throughout his career but has not ridden competitively since retiring from the
saddle in 1996. He will journey from his summer headquarters in Saratoga
to ride in a special jockey legends-versus-active riders race designed as part
of Arlington Park’s
festivities during the week of its annually showcased International Festival of
“Physically, I’m in pretty
good shape,” said Cruguet midweek, speaking over the phone from Saratoga.
“I was in Ocala (Florida)
last winter and got on some horses, and I got on one or two in Kentucky
this spring for five-furlong breezes. Also, I run a mile and a half every
morning so I’m feeling fit enough to get a horse around the track.”
Friday’s challenge race,
featuring five retired jockeys against five of Arlington’s
top riders, will be run for the second consecutive year as part of Arlington’s
“Dining with the Dynasty” gathering, now in its third season.
“Dining with the Dynasty” is
ticketed charity event that brings legendary jockeys from all over the country
to raise funds for The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the Racetrack
Chaplaincy of America. Ticketholders get to spend the afternoon in Mr.
D.’s Sports Bar with the legendary riders as they reminisce about their experiences
including their rides aboard some of the most famous horses in Thoroughbred
Scheduled to join Cruguet
among the retired jockeys returning to the saddle for the race against
Arlington’s active riders are: Hall of Fame jockeys Chris McCarron and
Earlie Fires (Arlington’s all-time leading jockey), as well as two-time
Arlington champion Mark Guidry and Patti Cooksey, at one time the world’s
all-time leading female jockey.
Other Hall of Fame jockeys scheduled to attend “Dining
with the Dynasty” – but not slated to ride – include Laffit Pincay Jr., Pat
Day, Angel Cordero Jr., Walter Blum, Sandy Hawley, John Rotz, Bobby Ussery and
As for Cruguet, who lost the
wife of his youth Denise early in 2010 and will be riding in honor of her
memory, his reminisces over the phone offer a sampling of the type of stories
ticketholders will hear at “Dining with the Dynasty.”
“She was the greatest
horsewoman I’ve ever known,” said Cruguet. “We came to this country
together in 1965, and if it hadn’t have been for her, no one would even know me
today. Not long after we got to this country, she was helpful in getting
me the mount on (Jane Forbes Clark’s) Hoist The Flag, who was trained by her
friend (and future Hall of Fame trainer) Sidney Watters Jr.
“Hoist The Flag was the best
horse I ever rode, by far,” said Cruguet. “It wasn’t Seattle Slew.
The first time I ever got on Hoist The Flag (as a 2-year-old), I told everyone
I knew that I was going to win the Kentucky Derby with this horse. The
only reason I didn’t say ‘the Triple Crown’ was because I was so new in this
county I didn’t even know what the Triple Crown was. I’d never even heard
of it. If he hadn’t broke down (early in his 3-year-old season but
eventually saved for stud duties), Hoist The Flag would have been 1-9 to win
the Triple Crown. Seattle Slew was a top miler, and because he was so
much better than everyone else that year he was able to win the Triple Crown,
but Hoist The Flag would have beat everyone else going any distance at any
time. He was just that much better than everyone else.”
ARLINGTON’S SENIOR EMPLOYEE TO CELEBRATE 87TH
BIRTHDAY AUG. 12
Tom Nagle, a World War II
veteran, former Cook County
judge and volunteer at Chicago Botanic
Garden, will celebrate his 87th birthday Aug. 12 as Arlington’s
A resident of Northbrook,
Illinois, Nagle began his Arlington
career in 1995, but was honored with an early birthday present July 20 when he
participated in the Honor Flight Chicago program that included a one-day trip
to Washington, D. C.
Honor Flight Chicago is a
non-profit organization existing to recognize honor and thank our nation’s
military veterans, with particular emphasis on veterans of World War II.
Nagle, who served in the Navy as a radioman aboard the destroyer USS Brush
during the Iwo Jima offensive, visited the
World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and
the Marine Corps Memorial during his trip to the nation’s capital.
Upon returning to Chicago
after his long day, Nagle and his fellow veterans experienced a “Welcome Home”
celebration including brass bands, banners, family members and a large crowd on
hand to greet them.