Pete Anderson, who rode the great Forego in the 1973 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and won the 1958 Belmont Stakes on Cavan, died of a heart attack Feb. 19 at a Hialeah hospital. He was 81.
Anderson rode Forego in all seven races leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Forego ran second in the Florida Derby (gr. I) and five weeks later finished fourth to Secretariat in the Run for the Roses. He later was ridden by several other jockeys and was a three-time Horse of the Year.
Cavan's Belmont victory robbed Tim Tam, who was injured during the race, of completing the Triple Crown. In the minds of some, the injury left a cloud over Cavan's triumph but The Blood-Horse called it a false cloud because "he had him beaten all the way. Injury should not deprive Cavan of any portion of his greatest victory. He was running with Tim Tam and handling him easily."
A native of Southampton, Long Island, N.Y., Anderson started in racing at age 12 as a hot walker and began race riding as a teenager in the late 1940s. He quit riding a few years later because of a weight problem but returned to the saddle in the early 1950s.
Once back in the saddle, Anderson won numerous stakes including such important events as the Acorn Stakes, the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Hialeah Turf Cup Handicap, the Laurel Futurity, the Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap, and the Washington Park Handicap. In addition to Forego and Cavan, Anderson rode such big-time horses as Bold Bidder, Sword Dancer, Missile Belle, and Cannonade.
Anderson played a big role in convincing future Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens to keep Cannonade instead of selling him during his racing career. Anderson was the regular ride of Cannonade midway through the colt's 2-year-old season in 1973 up through the spring of 1974.
"Pete used to look at horses for Woody and tell him, "Buy this one; don't buy that one," said Anderson's wife, Julia, recently from her Florida home. "Pete talked Woody into keeping Cannonade after an offer was made. But later Lucille (Woody's wife) wanted Woody to take Pete off Cannonade just before the Kentucky Derby."
Anderson was yanked, and Cannonade won the Run for the Roses under Angel Cordero. "It was the saddest moment of Pete's career," Julia said.
After his retirement in the mid-1970s, Anderson took up training. He saddled several stakes winners including homebred New York graded stakes winner Sorry Lookin, who ran second in the Widener Handicap (gr. I) and third in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I). Anderson's other stakes winners as a trainer included multiple graded winner Delightful Kiss, whose biggest win came in the 2007 Ohio Derby (gr. II). The win evoked special memories because Anderson had won the 1964 Ohio Derby aboard National.
According to Julia, Anderson found special solace at the racetrack. "Pete loved the racetrack and his horses and was generous to everyone," Julia said. "The old saying was that if Pete Anderson had money, everybody had money."
In addition to Julia, Anderson is survived by a son, Robert, and a daughter, Aggie Ordonez, who is a California trainer.