Hall of Fame Rider John Sellers Dead at 72

Hall of Fame jockey John Sellers died July 2 in Arkansas.

Hall of Fame jockey John Sellers, who rode for more than 20 years, died July 2 at a nursing home in Fayetteville, Ark. He was 72.

Doctors said the cause of death was old age, according to his son, Mark Sellers, who is a former jockey. Burial will be in Claremore, Okla.

In recent years, Sellers was a bloodstock agent living in Hallandale, Fla. He was into “buying and selling in a couple little ventures,” he said in 2007, the year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

When asked about his father’s biggest thrill in racing, Mark Sellers said: “He had so many of them. One thing he always talked about was his induction into the Hall of Fame.”

John Sellers was born in Los Angeles and raised in Oklahoma. He rode from 1955-77.

The peak of his career was the 1960s, when he finished in the top 10 nationally in purse money five times in a span of six years. He led the nation in victories (328) and was second in purses in 1961, the year he rode Carry Back to victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

Sellers won many of the major stakes in the country, including the Belmont, Alabama, Travers, Blue Grass, Kentucky Oaks, Florida Derby, Garden State Stakes, United Nations Handicap, San Juan Capistrano, San Luis Obispo, San Felipe, Sunset, Hollywood Derby, Carter, Del Mar Invitational, and the Whitney Handicap.

In 2007, Sellers said he was moved by his election to the Hall of Fame.

“It's just absolutely fantastic; I never thought that much about being in the Hall of Fame, but being inducted is almost like winning the ‘big one’ for sure,” Seller said.

Sellers had been nominated for the Hall in the contemporary jockey category in 1987. Walter Blum was inducted that year.

Sellers is survived by two sons—Mark and John Michael Sellers, who lives in Arkansas.