Friends Remember Jockey Eddie Arcaro
MIAMI (AP) _ Eddie Arcaro, the only jockey to win two Triple Crowns, was remembered today as a fierce but friendly competitor who left a legacy of benefits for his colleagues.
Arcaro, who won the Kentucky Derby five times, died of liver cancer Friday. He was 81.
John Giovanni, the national manager of the Jockey’s Guild, told jockeys, trainers and friends _ including baseball great Joe DiMaggio _ at Arcaro’s funeral in Miami that despite all the wins, the legacy of the man known as ``The Master″ was his role in the forming of the guild.
``What most people don’t know is how hard Eddie worked to improve the conditions and safety for his fellow jockeys,″ Giovanni said.
In 1940, Arcaro pushed for the creation of a jockey’s organization to buy insurance to protect jockeys who were injured. Giovanni said no one would front the money, so Arcaro wrote a personal check for the first premium.
``All the jockeys owe him a debt of gratitude,″ Giovanni said. ``I don’t know if he was ever reimbursed, but he could never be repaid.″
The 5-foot-3 Arcaro started riding in 1931 and rode his first winner at Agua Caliente, Mexico, on Jan. 14, 1932. He went on to ride 4,779 winners, earning purses of $30,309,543.
But he was most famous for riding Whirlaway to a Triple Crown in 1941, and repeating the feat on Citation in 1948.
Citation was one of Arcaro’s favorite horses, and so sure was he that he would win the Belmont while chasing the Triple Crown on the horse that he boasted, ``The only way I can lose this race is if I fall off my horse.″
He almost did, as Citation stumbled out of the gate. But Arcaro steadied him and he went on to win by 8 1/2 lengths.
He retired in 1961 and became a network television racing analyst.
Arcaro is survived by his wife Vera, whom he married last year after a long companionship; his son Bob, of Miami; and a daughter, Carolyn Zaslow, of Cohasset, Mass.
He grew up in Cincinnati, the son of an immigrant cab driver, and started galloping horses as a teen for no pay at Latonia Race Course.
Arcaro was a fiery competitor. Jockey Walter Blum said he once apologized for beating Arcaro when Arcaro’s horse was tagged with a foul in Atlantic City in 1957.
Arcaro would have none of it.
``He said, `You win these races any way you can,‴ Blum remembered. But then, as he so often did, Blum said, Arcaro showed his gentler side. ```Now, God bless, and good luck,‴ he told the younger jockey.
He also lost by disqualification to veteran rider Pete Anderson once in 1948.
``We had many battles over that one,″ Anderson recalled. ``We’d be playing golf and I’d bring it up, and he’d say `Don’t start riding that horse again,‴ Anderson said.
``You don’t succeed in a profession as he did without a tough spirit,″ said the Rev. Thomas Engbers during a 90-minute memorial service at St. Martha Catholic Church. ``At the same time, he was a gentle spirit. That’s what impressed me most.″
In addition to Whirlaway and Citation, Arcaro won the Kentucky Derby with Larwin in 1938, Hoop Jr. in 1945 and Hill Gail in 1952.
He also won the Preakness aboard Hill Prince in 1950; Bold in 1951; Nashua, who also won the Belmont in 1955; and Bold Ruler in 1957.
His other Belmont winners were Shut Out in 1942, Pavot in 1945 and One Count in 1952.