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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

Retired Jockey Bill Harmatz Dies

Retired jockey Bill Harmatz, who won the prestigious Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1960, died Jan. 28 at his home in Vista, Calif., according to a Santa Anita release. He was 79 and would have turned 80 on Feb. 9.


Harmatz won the 1959 Preakness Stakes on Royal Orbit, one of his 1,770 wins, in a career that spanned 17 years. He rode in the Kentucky Derby four times.


“What a wonderful day,” Harmatz told the North County Times in May about his Preakness win. “It was the highlight of my career.”


Royal Orbit was trained by Reggie Cornell, who also conditioned the legendary come-from-behinder, Silky Sullivan, ridden on occasion by Harmatz. Royal Orbit was owned by movie mogul Louis B. Mayer.



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