Sandy Hawley may have won the Living Legends race on Tribal Chief against seven fellow Hall of Fame former riders, but nobody had more fun than Julie Krone and Chris McCarron.
“I want to do this again,” Krone said shortly after finishing fifth on Major Smoke.
McCarron said the Living Legends race re-ignited his passion for riding the way competing in other celebrity races never has.
“That was such a blast,” said McCarron. His mount, Waafi, bled and finished next to last, but that didn’t bother McCarron. “I beat (Angel) Cordero. That was my only goal.”
Fans lined up earlier in the day to get autographs from the eight riders—Hawley, Krone, McCarron, Cordero, Jerry Bailey, Gary Stevens, Pat Day, and Jacinto Vasquez—and the three Hall of Fame ambassadors—Laffit Pincay Jr., Eddie Delahoussaye, and Jorge Velasquez. The day even brought out racing’s newest Hall of Fame jockey member, as Milo Valenzuela joined the others in the winner’s circle.
“I love the fans here,” said Hawley, who rode in Southern California for 20 years. “Even when you lose, they never get very upset with you. It’s great to be back.”
The eight jockeys competed in a seven-furlong allowance/optional claiming race for California-breds. Bailey and Dee Dee’s Legacy were the morning-line favorites, but by post time, Hawley and Tribal Chief were the 3-1 choice.
Hawley got a noisy ovation from fellow Canadians in the walking ring.
“We have about 10 people with us here,” Hawley said, “and there are several Canadians in town with Breeders’ Cup horses.”
McCarron, Stevens, and Krone, none long gone from the California jockey ranks, received boisterous ovations from fans lining the walking ring.
Tribal Chief is a front-runner for trainer John Sadler, and Hawley rode to instructions, putting the 4-year-old gelding on the lead when the gate opened. Bailey closed some ground around the turn and into the stretch, but then Hawley opened up, winning by 6 1/2 lengths in 1:21.03
David and Herb Alpert own Tribal Chief. David and his wife, Merryl, were in the winner’s circle to receive the trophy.
“This is our Kentucky Derby,” Merryl Alpert said.
“This means a lot to us,” added David Alpert, “because Sandy Hawley back in 1977 won three races in a row for us on Hello Hostess, in April, May, and June. Noble Threewitt was our trainer.”
The win went onto Hawley’s permanent record, moving him from 6,449 victories to 6,450.
“I always hoped to get to ’50, but I never thought I’d do it,” said Hawley.
Though the riders ranged in age from Cordero’s 65 to Krone and Stevens’ 45, once the jockeys donned silks again, in many cases it looked as if they had never been away.
After the jockeys brought their mounts back to be unsaddled, McCarron feigned exhaustion.
“I need water,” he yelped, pretending to be rubber-legged. In fact, he has been staying in shape getting on horses in Kentucky, where he runs a school for prospective jockeys.