He weighed 132 pounds.
Thus the effect of food. After the battle had commenced in 1969, Pincay frequently went without breakfast. For lunch he often had no more than a bowl of soup. "He'd plop down with me in the kitchen and have a cup of tea with nothing in it, and maybe a cracker, scraping off the grains of salt before he ate it," says Dr. Jock Jocoy, a California veterinarian. For dinner he had a piece of broiled fish and a boiled vegetable. In his sunflower-seed period he had them for breakfast with nothing else, for lunch with a poached egg, and for dinner with a salad.
During his ritual of the pillbox, the hotbox and the salad bar, Pincay never had a bad year at the track, but he sensed a void in his life. "Even when I was doing good, I had a very empty feeling, you know?" he says. "I used to get up in the morning and think, 'Oh, man, you got to do it again. And there's nothing you can do about it.' I used to think, 'Do I have to do this the rest of my career?' It was a terrible feeling, day after day. I was making so much money. I have a beautiful family and I was not enjoying it. I don't know why I was so intense about winning. I was trying so hard, sometimes I was too active on a horse and he would lose his balance and foul other horses and I was getting suspensions. Pushing too hard, trying too hard was what I was doing. I would lose my temper very easily. Get in fights all the time with other jockeys. In 1973 I started to get very depressed. I wasn't satisfied with anything. I'd win four races in a day and think about the one that got away. I'd get mad: 'You should have won five today.' It was always the win that got away. I don't know why. It wasn't money. It was the pressure. Just too much pressure."
Not all of it was self-imposed. De-Gregory wanted riding championships. "He would tell me we're going to be leading rider," Pincay says. "We're going to do this, do that. If we had a bad week, I could feel he was mad at me. He'd tell me how much money he bet on me to be the leading rider, side bets, up to $5,000 a bet. If I got days, if I got a suspension, he'd say, 'Don't worry. We'll still win. I bet another thousand on you.' If that's not putting pressure on somebody...."
DeGregory says that the first year Pincay won the riding championship, Laffit told him that nobody could beat Shoemaker in California. "I'd just started working for him," the agent recalls. "I told him, 'If you don't believe you can beat Shoemaker, I'm going to quit you. I don't work for riders who don't believe in themselves.' I always put pressure on him, ever since I went to work for him, but only because he was in a shell, very quiet. It was for his own good."
Whatever was driving Pincay, it almost consumed him in 1974, the year he had the box put in his living room at Saratoga. That fall, while riding at Aqueduct, he collapsed in the jockeys' room. "I came into the room and all the lights started looking funny to me, going around, and I saw spots," he says. "Suddenly I was very weary." A warm flash raced through his body. Rushed to the hospital, he had an electrocardiogram taken, which showed nothing wrong. He was sitting in the emergency room waiting for his wife when he noticed a doctor looking at him from across the room. "I thought he recognized me," Pincay says. He kept looking at me; finally he came up to me."
"Son, do you feel all right?" the doctor said.
"I feel funny."
"You don't look good to me," the doctor said.
Pincay told him about the diet and the pills and the box. The doctor took him inside for blood tests. An hour later came the warning. "He told me, 'Listen, you have no salt in your body. You have no potassium in your body. You have no water in your body. You are dehydrated. If you don't quit what you're doing, you're going to have a heart attack when you're very young.' I got scared. I knew I had to do something about staying away from the box."