Black Defies Odds, Continues to Win

At age 56, jockey Anthony Black is still winning races.

When Anthony Black broke a pair of ribs and three vertebrae in a spill at Philadelphia Park last November, it looked like the end for the veteran jockey. At 55, Black’s doctor told him the risk of permanent back damage might be too great to resume his career.

Apparently Black isn’t done defying the odds just yet. He made that emphatic point Oct. 13 at Laurel Park, winning a pair of stakes races on Maryland Million Day, proof positive age is only a number.

“I guess an old guy like me can still win a few of the better races,” joked Black, who turned 56 last month. “It was a little slow at Philly Park, so (trainer) Tim Ritchey asked me to ride a couple in Maryland. It felt good to pick up a couple of nice mounts.”

Black’s victories came on Robert S. Evans’ Akronism in the $142,000 Maryland Million Distaff and then later on the favored Moon Catcher in the $142,500 Maryland Million Oaks. They were his only two mounts of the day.

“I worked both of them last week at Delaware,” said Black, who returned to action in May. “They are both good fillies. I won a $100,000 race with Akronism at Philly this summer, and Moon Catcher had already proven she could handle better when she won a graded stakes at Delaware earlier in the year.

“I’m riding about two or three a day at Philly, I’m not killing myself. Some of my main customers are going through a bit of a slow period right now, so it’s nice to ride at different places.”

Black has been riding since 1970, when he made his debut at the now-defunct Liberty Bell Park in Philadelphia. Based at Philadelphia Park, where he is the racetrack’s all-time wins leader, he has made a name for himself as one of the most reliable riders in the Mid-Atlantic for 35 years.

In May 2006, Black won his 5,000th race at the Bensalem-based racetrack, aboard Actcentric. He is in the top 25 in North America for all-time wins by a jockey.

“I was fortunate because I healed from the injury quickly,” said Black, who founded Philadelphia Park Jockeys and helped riders get on-track catastrophic insurance and recently, additional healthcare benefits. “I would like to ride into next year, but we’ll play it by ear.

“After I retire I would like to be a trainer, although that isn’t always the best avenue to take. Or maybe I’ll try to get into officiating races or being part of a jockeys' colony. Whatever I do, I’d like to stay in the sport somehow.”