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Johnny Adams with Hasty RoadJohnny Adams

three-time United States champion jockey (1937, 1942 and 1943) and fourth American jockey to reach 3,000 wins during his career

Known as the "Iola Mite" because he grew up in Iola, Kansas, Adams had the unique reputation of beginning his riding career without the benefit of an apprentice allowance. He rode his first race at the age of 15, at the fairgrounds in Uniontown, Kansas, in 1929. He won his first race in major competition at Riverside Park, Kansas City, Missouri, in 1934, on "Marble Girl." He then went on to one of the most successful careers in horse racing history. By the time he retired in 1958, Adams had amassed a record 3,270 wins, 2,704 seconds and 2,635 thirds, had ridden a total of 20,159 mounts, and had racked up purse winnings of almost $10 million.

His career highlights include winning the 1939 Santa Anita Handicap on "Kayak II," in what he himself called his most memorable race, and riding "Hasty Road" to a win in the Preakness Stakes and a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, in 1954.

In 1961, Adams became a charter inductee into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 1965.

Following his retirement, Adams spent many years as a public trainer on the Pacific coast. He died in Arcadia, California, on August 19, 1995.

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This page was last updated on December 21, 2015.

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