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Kentucky Derby Winning Jockey Wayne D. Wright

By Edited Oct 12, 2015 0 0

Wright was born in Rexdale, Idaho on August 16, 1916 and began his professional jockey career in 1931 at the age of 14.  In 1934, he moved to the New York racing circuit and became the leading jockey by earnings won in American Thoroughbred horse racing (he repeated this feat in 1936).  Wright won the first of his three Triple Crown victories aboard Peace Chance who won that year’s Belmont Stakes.  He rode four more Belmont Stakes runners with his best result a 3rd aboard Rosemont.

In 1935, Wayne finished 3rd in the Kentucky Derby aboard Whiskolo.  The winner of that race, Omaha, would go on to win the Triple Crown.  Wright would later ride Omaha to victories in the Dwyer Stakes and the Arlington Classic.  Other major wins for Wright this year was the Champagne Stakes, the Manhattan Handicap and the Spinaway Stakes.  

The following year, Wright finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby aboard favored Brevity who lost by a head to Bold Venture.  Wright also rode in California and won two of Santa Anita’s biggest races: The Santa Anita Derby aboard He Did and the Santa Anita Handicap aboard Top Row.  

In 1937, he finished 2nd in the Preakness Stakes aboard Pompoon behind Triple Crown winner War Admiral.  In 1938, Wayne would gain the mount on War Admiral when his regular rider, Charley Kurtsinger, was injured.  Wright won the Saratoga Cup, the Whitney Handicap and the Jockey Club Gold Cup aboard War Admiral.  

In 1939, Wayne was one of the jockeys featured in the Columbia Pictures movie “Columbia World of Sports: Jockeys Up” which was written and narrated by Bill Stern.  It was filmed at Santa Anita Park where Stern spent the day hanging out in the stables with jockeys, trainers and horses.

Wright served in the Coast Guard during World War II and resumed riding afterwards.  In 1945, Wright completed his own Triple Crown when he won the Preakness Stakes aboard Polynesian.  Wright retired as a horse racing jockey in 1950 where he switched to training.  After five years, he retired as a trainer and moved to the Yerlington, Nevada area where he grew alfalfa grass and raised saddle horses.  

Wright died on March 11, 2003 where he was survived by his wife Nadia and his three children Kenneth, Dan and Dorothy.  It really is a shame that Wayne D. Wright is not in the Racing Hall of Fame as he was considered one of the best jockeys during his era, he won all three Triple Crown races and he rode and won aboard two Triple Crown winners.

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