Chris McCarron is a retired American thoroughbred horse racing Hall of Fame jockey….who mounted his first horse ever at 16.5 years old and was racing professionally by 18….when at the ripe ole age of 19 years old….his first year as a jockey….Chris McCarron wove a spell that brought his mounts to the winner’s circle 547 times in 1974…..while breaking all records for most races won in a year….as the previous record was set by Sandy Hawley in 1973 with 515 wins in a year.
McCarron was introduced to the sport of thoroughbred racing by his older brother, jockey Gregg McCarron….and began riding professionally in 1974 at East Coast racetracks….where he won the 1974 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey in the United States….then he decided to move to race in California in 1977…. a year in which he scored his first of three wins in the Kentucky Oaks. In 1980 he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey as best overall jockey….and that same year his peers voted him the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. In 1991, he was voted the Mike Venezia Memorial Award for “extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship”.
Chris McCarron won nine Breeders’ Cup races….including five Breeders’ Cup Classics….and rode six winners in the U.S. Triple Crown Races….and led all North American jockeys in earnings in 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1991….while topping the leader board in wins in 1974, 1975 and 1980.
In 1989, Chris McCarron was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. After 28 years in racing he retired in June 2002….finishing as thoroughbred racing’s ALL-TIME leader in purse earnings with more than $264 million in winnings and 7,141 races won….as he won about 21% of the races he rode, a percentage that only 5 jockeys have ever held.