Former Jockey Jimmy Combest Dies at 86
by Jim Freer
Date Posted: 1/9/2013 6:14:55 PM
Last Updated: 1/10/2013 1:51:50 PM
James Combest, a retired jockey who rode in the Kentucky Derby four times, died Jan. 8 at Southwest Ranches, Fla.
Known as "Jimmy" to his family and friends, he was 86.
One of his career highlights was riding Roman Line to a second-place finish in the 1962 Kentucky Derby. That race was won by Decidedly, ridden by Bill Hartack.
Combest died at his home in the Fort Lauderdale area after a long illness. The cause of death was determined to be complications from pneumonia, said his nephew Phil Combest, an owner and trainer who is president of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.
He was one of three brothers in a prominent racing family. The late Nick Combest was a trainer in New York and Kentucky for several decades. Reed Combest is an owner and trainer who is based at Calder Casino & Race Course in Miami Gardens, Fla. He is the father of Phil Combest.
Jimmy Combest was born in 1926 in Louisville. He became a jockey at an early age and rode until the early 1980s. He then became a farm manager in Florida.
"My uncle was one of the top riders on the New York circuit in the '50s and '60s, and he was a horseman's horseman," Phil Combest said.
"If you became his friend, you were his friend for life," he added. "He also was the funniest man I ever met."
He is survived by his wife Dottie, three daughters, a son, and three sisters.
Copyright © 2014 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.