Jockey Chris McCarron, already a member of the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame, still has the competitive fires that put him there.
Going into today’s final day of racing at Hollywood Park, McCarron has wrapped up his 11th riding title at the track. He has 54 wins, 12 more than his nearest competitor, Alex Solis.
It will be McCarron’s sixth riding title at Hollywood’s Fall meeting, and his first since 1985.
“When the meet started, I didn’t really tell my agent (Scotty McClellan) that I wanted to be the leading rider. We were only about two weeks into the meet and business was going so well that he asked me if I felt good enough to accept additional mounts,” recalled McCarron. “I told him that I felt terrific, and that if he wanted to pick up seven or eight mounts a day, we should go for it. We were lucky enough to accept not only a lot of business, but a lot of live business as well.
“It’s comforting coming to the end of this meet on top of the standings. It’s very satisfying and fulfilling, especially coming back from the injury. I was really taken aback by some of the articles that were written when I got hurt last summer.
“Some of the articles said that I had ridden for 15 years, and that I had made some money and why should I continue to ride. They said it was possible I would retire. Without even speaking with me to get my thoughts on the subject, it was disturbing.”
McCarron was injured in a spill on June 3, breaking both legs and his right arm, on the day he was scheduled to ride Sunday Silence in the Californian at Hollywood Park.
McCarron amazed everyone by returning to riding on Aug. 23 at Del Mar, just 11 weeks after the accident.
“I still get a big charge out of winning races, no matter if it’s a claiming race or a million-dollar race,” McCarron said. “The feeling of beating Laffit in a photo, or beating Gary Stevens, or knowing that you did your best to bring a horse to the wire first is a great feeling.”
“As long as I have that excitement, I’ll continue to ride,” said the 35-year-old native of Dorchester, Mass., who now makes his home in Encino with his wife Judy and their three daughters.
McCarron touched on the reason for the time between riding titles by saying: “I really do miss all the recent gratification of being the leading rider. I took myself out of that position beginning back in 1986. It was by design that following my injury then, that I would pace myself and come back slowly.