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Steve Cauthen

the youngest jockey to ever win the Triple Crown

Steve Cauthen at Aqueduct in 1977

Steve Cauthen was born into a horse-racing family on May 1, 1960, in Covington, Kentucky. His father was a blacksmith, his mother and two uncles were horse trainers. His parents gave him a pony when he was two years old, and by the age of 12 he was seriously considering a career as a jockey.

Cauthen made his debut as an apprentice jockey on May 12, 1976, at Churchill Downs; his horse finished last. Five days later he rode his first winner, Red Pipe, at River Downs, and by the end of 1976 he had ridden more than 200 winners.

Within six weeks of the start of the 1977 season Cauthen's mounts had earned more than $1,000,000 in purse money. In one month alone, he finished first on 59 of his 198 mounts, and he once rode horses into the winner's circle six times in one day. On May 23, 1977, he was thrown by his horse and trampled in a three-horse spill. He suffered a concussion, a hairline fracture of his right arm, two broken fingers, and a broken rib, but was back in the saddle within four weeks. He became a full-fledged jockey in June, and in December he became the first jockey to ever reach $6,000,000 in purse earnings in one season, by riding Little Happiness to victory at Aqueduct. That same year, Cauthen was named .Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, Sporting News Sportsman of the Year, Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year, and ABC’s Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year, and also won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey and the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in the United States.

In 1978, Cauthen became the youngest jockey to ever win the U. S. Triple Crown, riding Affirmed to victories in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness States, and Belmont Stakes.

Increasing problems making weight led Cauthen to move to England, where jockeys normally compete at higher weights, in 1979. He won on his first mount in England when Marquee Universal prevailed in the Grand Foods Handicap at Salisbury Racecourse on April 7, 1979. He subsequently became British Champion Jockey three times, and won 10 European classic races, including the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby twice, and the St. Leger Stakes three times.

By the time Cauthen retired in 1992 he had ridden a totoal of 14,630 mounts and rakced up 2,794 wins. He was presented the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1984 and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1994. He currently oversees a stud farm near Verona, Kentucky.

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This page was last updated on January 02, 2019.