Bill Hartack, a Hall of Famer who rode five Kentucky Derby winners, was found dead Nov. 26 in a cabin near Freer, Texas, according to Daily Racing Form. The 74-year-old Hartack was scheduled to go hunting. The cause of death is believed to be a heart attack.
Hartack and fellow Hall of Famer Eddie Arcaro are the only riders with as many as five Kentucky Derby winners. Hartack won his first Derby on Iron Liege in 1957 and followed up with scores aboard Venetian Way in 1960, Decidedly in 1962, Northern Dancer in 1964, and Majestic Prince in 1969. Hartack won the Preakness aboard the last two-named and on Fabius in 1956. His sole Belmont Stakes win came aboard Celtic Ash in 1960.
Known for his overwhelming desire to win, Hartack twice was the leading rider by earnings (1956-57) and the leader four times by number of wins (1955-57 and 1960). He was the second jockey to ride as many as 400 winners in a single year, doing so in 1955, when winning with 417 of his mounts.
Born in Pennsylvania, Hartack won his first race in 1952 at Waterford Park in West Virginia and was elected to the Hall of Fame in his 20s in 1959. He rode until 1974 and retired with 4,272 wins from 21,535 mounts for an impressive 19.8% win percentage. He later rode for a time in Hong Kong.
Hartack remained active in racing following his retirement and served as a steward at several tracks. He recently worked the Louisiana Downs meeting.