Hollywood Exercise Rider, 75, Stays Young

(from Hollywood Park notes)
Want to stay young? Exercise horses, says Hollywood Park exercise rider Manuel Chirino, who turns 75 on May 20.

"I've been doing this for more than 40 years," said the trim, silver-haired veteran after completing work on Sunday. Chirino has also worked as a Hollywood Park pari-mutuel clerk during the afternoons for the same length of time.

Since trainer Warren Stute stopped getting on horses at 80 following a stroke a couple of years ago, Chirino has become the dean of exercise riders here.

Chirino rode in South America before moving to the United States.

"I was born in Chile and started riding in Brazil, where I was leading rider, from 1948-60," said Chirino. "I came to the United States in 1960 and worked for Charlie Whittingham with the help of Mrs. Tippett (Llangollen Farm owner Liz Tippett Whitney). I went to King Ranch in Texas (for) a couple of years and rode in Chicago in 1961.

"I broke a leg there in a gate accident, was off three or four months, had a weight problem and have been an exercise rider ever since."

Chirino has exercised several stars during his career. "I got on all the good William Haggin Perry horses during the 1960's – Gamely, Lamb Chop, Princessnesian," said Chirino. "Laffit Pincay rode his first stakes winner at Santa Anita with Princessnesian. I told him before the race, 'Don't fall off and you'll win.'"

Chirino also exercised horses for such luminaries as Buster Millerick and Richard Mandella through the years. "I got on Solar Salute before he won the (1972) Santa Anita Derby for Lou Glauburg and Royal Attack before he won the (1962) Santa Anita Derby for Buddy Hirsch," said Chirino.

Chirino lives in Studio City and has a son, Arthur, a biochemist.

Chirino now works primarily for trainers Dan Hendricks and David LaCroix. He will usher in his birthday like he begins most days, by exercising five or six horses.