Famed jockey Jerry Nicodemus dies
When Nicodemus was 10, he worked for spending money by cleaning stalls and riding ponies. Obsessed with the idea of riding racehorses, he left home at 14 and lied about his age so he could work as a groom at Beulah Park in Grove City, Ohio.
Nicodemus knew being a jockey wasn’t going to be easy, but he never gave up. He found his way to Arcadia Racetrack in Houston. Supplemented by wages earned in the rice fields, he started making his living as a jockey at 17.
The first Quarter Horse Nicodemus ever rode went down and Nicodemus broke his leg, but that didn’t discourage him.
He would launch a career that saw him aboard many champions. In 6,317 races, he won 1,252 and earned $18,888,775.
Nicodemus famously rode legend Dash For Cash in all but two of the stallion’s 25 starts. The pair are memorialized in a life-size bronze sculpture that stands both at the American Quarter Horse Association’s headquarters in Amarillo, as well as at the Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas.
Nicodemus won the All American Futurity three times, aboard Three Oh’s (1968), Rocket Wrangler (1970) and Ronas Ryon (1986). He is tied for the most wins in the Champion of Champions with four – Dash For Cash (1976-77), Lady Juno (1980) and Denim N Diamonds (1981).
Other great horses he guided include champions Gold Coast Express, and Dashing Phoebe.
He retired near the top of his game in 1993, and worked as a racing steward.
He was inducted into the Ruidoso Hall of Fame in 2004 and the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2009.
Nicodemus once said, “I associated with good people – owners, trainers, other jockeys. I think I’ve led a pretty good life in racing.”
This release will be edited with funeral information as soon as it becomes available.
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