I almost forgot...Shoemaker was the leading jockey at every meeting at Santa Anita from about 1950 to 1968. You don't see that sort of dominance for such an extended period of time these days.
There have been many excellent jockeys, that's true, but I do think you can narrow down the top 2 to Shoemaker and Pincay, and I don't find it "impossible" to do so. Shoemaker was The Legend in horse racing, becoming so successful that he became a famous name to the general public at large who knew absolutely nothing about horse racing. You know how Michael Jordan became bigger than basketball? Shoemaker became bigger than horse racing. Shoemaker led the nation in purses earned 10 times, and in races won 5 times. His next nearest competitor in purses earned is Pincay who led 7 times, Bailey led 7 times, Arcaro led 6 times, Baeza led 5 times, McCarron led 4 times. When it comes to races won Shoemaker led the country on 5 occasions, and retired as the leading jockey in history with 8,833 wins. John Nerud and Charlie Whittingham, amongst many who agreed, said that he was the greatest rider of all time. When Bud Delp was asked why he chose Shoemaker for SPECTACULAR BID he said, "When you think of jockeys you think of Shoemaker."
When it comes to the best jockey of all time it comes down to Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay Jr.
And what about the fact that COUGAR II defeated FORT MARCY, twice, on firm turf courses, once by 3 lengths, and once by a head? FORT MARCY was a champion and a great horse who ran successfully against DR. FAGER and DAMASCUS, losing to the former by a little ove a lenght, and giving the latter a nose defeat. I'm giving credit - lot's of it - where it's due, and that's to COUGAR II.
I meant to say that he was ranked the 2nd best horse in America, on dirt, for 1971, and in 1972 and 1973 he was ranked #1 on turf. Sorry for the error.
COUGAR II was ranked by Daily Racing Form in their Free Handicap as the 2nd best horse in America in 1972, just behind ACK ACK. In 1972 and 1973 he was ranked by DRF as the best turf horse in America. He was the champion turf horse of 1972. He was usually the favorite and/or highweight in his races. That in the money ratio, over all, is spectacular, and being placed in so many stakes races is a stunning achievement. In 1972, within 3 weeks' time, he won an 11 fulrong turf stakes in 2:11, a new world record that stood for a long time, and then he ran 8-1/2 furlongs on dirt in 1:39-1/5, coming from 16 lengths out of it, running his mile in 1:33-1/5. His time that day was the second fastest 1-1/16 miles ever ran on dirt and missed SWAPS' world record by 1/5. Nothing can diminish this horse, history speaks for itself.
Let's take a look at the percentage of stakes wins and placings (total) for some great horses: COUGAR II - 50 starts, 22 stakes placings (40 total stakes placings), 80%: ROUND TABLE - 66 starts, 44 total stakes placings, 67%: FOREGO - 57 starts, 37 total stakes placings, 65%: JOHN HENRY - 83 starts, 47 total stakes placings, 56%: SHUVEE - 44 starts, 24 total stakes placings, 55%: GALLORETTE - 72 starts, 39 total stakes placings, 54%: FORT MARCY - 75 starts, 39 total stakes placings, 52%: DAHLIA - 48 starts, 24 total stakes placings, 50%: SEABISCUIT - 89 starts, 38 total stakes placings, 43%. I could go on and on, and COUGAR II would look better than many more horses throughout history. I just gave you a small sampling. 40 stakes placings from only 50 starts is clearly an amazing achievement. This is a great, great horse.
***In 27 Grade 1 starts COUGAR II was only out of the money twice, both on horribly soft & yielding turf courses. If not for those conditions he would likely be at 100% in the money. Races were not graded in the USA until 1973, so I will call his starts in the 1971 and 1972 versions of those races "Grade 1 equivalents."****
COUGAR II was in the money 88% of the time after a 50 start career, with 40 of those 44 in-the-money starts being in stakes races. That's incredible. His in-the-money percentage matches FOREGO (also at 88%), and it is far, far, far better than the in the money records of many other superb runners, including: JOHN HENRY, DAHLIA, SEABISCUIT, ASSAULT, CARRY BACK, SHUVEE, NODOUBLE, CRIMSON SATAN, FORT MARCY, GAMELY, NATIVE DIVER, STRAIGHT DEAL, T.V. LARK, GALLORETTE, ANCIENT TITLE, RIVA RIDGE, AUTOBIOGRAPHY, EXCELLER, KEY TO THE MINT, KENNEDY ROAD, TYPECAST, LADY'S SECRET, PRECISIONIST, BAYAKOA, BEST PAL, SWORD DANCER, STYMIE, POLYNESIAN, DEVIL DIVER, BEWITCH, DISCOVERY, SIR BARTON, IMP, GREY LAG, EXTERMINATOR, VIGORS, BIG SPRUCE, etc.
Don't mention it. Glad to help. It just seems that some people aren't realizing that being #10 or #15 OF ALL TIME is quiet an accomplishment, and they act as if 10 horses should be #1...it just doesn't work though.
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