Retired Hall of Fame jockey Don Pierce, who won four Santa Anita
Handicaps and is regarded as one of the best big-money riders of his
era, has fond recollections of his first Big ’Cap win aboard Linmold, in
“It really meant a lot to my career,” said Pierce from his home
in Encinitas, near Del Mar. “What helped too was that there was a lot
of added publicity leading into the race because I had claimed foul
against both Shoemaker (Bill, who rode Baghdad) and Arcaro (Eddie, who
rode First Landing) in the race before, the Strub. (Arcaro won the race
and Shoemaker was second, with Pierce third, aboard Linmold).
“Both of those horses should have been taken down but I remember
right after the Strub, the guy who ran the place at that time, Carlton
Burke, told Gil Stratton on television while I was still on the scale
that ‘Don Pierce is trying to claim foul, but there won’t be any
“There wasn’t, but there was a lot written about it and it
helped bring attention to the Big ’Cap. I was still really a kid (23)
and I had come down from Seattle in 1958. I was doing really good, but
winning the Santa Anita Handicap put me on the map, that’s for sure.
“My horse broke good and we were lying in the middle of the pack
and he came running when we turned for home. There were four horses on
the wire and we beat Ralph Neves and Fleet Nasrullah by a head. The
Santa Anita Handicap was the biggest race in the world at that time and
there were so many people there you couldn’t see the cement.”
Trained by H.C. McBride, Linmold, off at 12-1, paid $26 to win.
Baghdad, the 8-5 favorite with Shoemaker, finished fourth, beaten a head
and two noses. First Landing and Arcaro, off as the second choice at
4-1, finished 11th in a field of 12.
Daily Racing Form’s chart footnote described Linmold’s win
thusly: “Linmold was well placed from the start while staying in
striking distance of the leaders, closed with a strong move between
horses in the last furlong and responding to hard urging, got up in the
Pierce would go on to win the 1962 Big ’Cap with Physician,
again in ’65 with Hill Rise and yet again in 1972 with Triple Bend. He
considers California-bred Hill Rise (with whom he also won the 1964
Santa Anita Derby) to be the best horse he ever rode in a career that
spanned 31 years.