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Johnny Comes Riding Home
Pat Ryan
September 20, 1965
At 59, John Longden is old for a jockey—but you would never have known it to see him on his 6,000th winner
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September 20, 1965

Johnny Comes Riding Home

At 59, John Longden is old for a jockey—but you would never have known it to see him on his 6,000th winner

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Since a jockey averages 10% of the purse money, it is obvious that Longden has no feed bills of his own to worry about. But with Longden his own money has never been the point. He goes on riding and risking his crinkled hide not for more money and not for more silverware and not for more publicity. His pleasure is in knowing he does a job well and has done it well for more years than most athletes can dream of. His diamond ring, given to him by the Jockeys' Guild, is engraved "World's Greatest Rider." He likes that ring.

At Exhibition Park that day Johnny Longden carefully took off the ring and handed it to his valet, as he does before every race he rides. Then he slapped his helmet on over his toupee, buckled the chin strap, climbed aboard Prince Scorpion and 1:18 1/5 minutes of running later, Prince Scorpion had won by 3/4ths of a length. Longden's followers at Exhibition Park had been rewarded $3.40, $2.70, $2.40. Prince Scorpion's owner had collected and the world had its first jockey with 6,000 winners. Two days later he got 6,001. Old John rides on and on.

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