Retired Finger Lakes Jockey Jose Olivares Dead

(Calder Race Course press release)

Jose Olivares, a retired jockey and member of the Oriental Park Hall of Fame at Calder Race Course, died Jan. 17 at his home in Tampa, Fla., of an apparent heart attack. The older brother of Calder-based trainer Luis Olivares, he was 65. Olivares is survived by his wife, Gladys, and he was preceded in death by another brother, Jon Olivares..

Olivares became interested in racing at an early age. His father owned horses that raced at Oriental Park in Cuba, and his older brother, Altor, was one of the top jockeys there.

By the time he was 12, Olivares was going out to the track to learn how to ride. In l957, he took out his jockey license and finished the year as the leading apprentice rider in the country and won the leading rider title as a journeyman in l959.

A Cuba native, Olivares came to the U.S. and connected with the already famous Barrera family of Jimmy and Lazaro (who trained Affirmed). He went to Finger Lakes in upstate New York, where he would have a very successful riding career, but with a tragic ending.

Olivares set jockey records at Finger Lakes that stood for many years. After winning the inaugural running of the New York Breeders’ Futurity on Prophet Wise in l963, he went on to win the prestigious race in l967 with Happy Gold and in l969 on Egobreeze.

From l963 until l970, Olivares reigned as “king of the jockeys” at Finger Lakes. He was the leading rider there and the sixth leading rider in the country until he went down in a spill in September of 1970 at age 29. He was left paralyzed.

Following his accident, Olivares devoted much of his time to helping riders. In addition to instructing individuals, he played an active role in the Jockeys’ Guild and worked with the Disabled Jockey Fund.

 As per his wishes, Olivares will be cremated. No memorial services outside of his family are planned.