Myles Neff, a longtime Ocala horseman, died July 7. He was 66.
A third generation horseman, Neff had a lifelong love of horses. The Michigan native rode his first Thoroughbred at the age of 8, and became a professional jockey at 15, riding primarily at tracks in the eastern United States from 1960 to 1972.
Neff was one of the early exercise riders of future Hall of Famers Riva Ridge and Secretariat. Neff then launched his own career as a trainer. From 1979 through 2004, he and his former wife, Carol, owned and operated The Renasance, a full-service training facility in Ocala, Fla. Myles continued to break, train, gallop, and breeze his own horses until shortly before his death. He was the only person in North America accredited by the American Riding Instructors Association to teach flat race riding. Neff devoted his life to the study of jockey style and technique. His trademark precision and passion for the subject are evident in his book, Stylin’: Reviving the Lost Art of Race Riding, which is in the final stages of production and will be released later this year.
In lieu of flowers, it was Neff's request that contributions be sent to his son Jason’s documentary-in-progress, entitled “Jock,” which details the triumphs and struggles of the pioneer female jockeys who fought for the right to ride. Contributions can be made at www.Jockthemovie.com. By Cynthia McFarland