John Longden Made His Last Ride Pay Off

Conspicuous by its absence among Earl Gustkey's examples of sports figures who retired "the right way" was John Longden.

In the final race of his great riding career, Longden won Santa Anita's San Juan Capistrano Handicap by a nose while aboard George Royal on March 12, 1966.

George Royal was not the favorite, either. He was given only a so-so chance, going off at odds of 6-1. Yet, Longden ended his riding career with a win in fairy-tale fasion, providing thoroughbred racing with one of its most emotional moments ever.

Longden retired as winningest jockey in history with 6,032 victories. It was a record that stood until Bill Shoemaker broke it in 1970.

The win by Longden on George Royal will be a difficult act to top for Shoemaker when he rides in his final race sometimes in the not too distant future.



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