Laffit Pincay Jr: 56 Going On 10,000

(From track report)
Laffit Pincay Jr. is 56, going on 10,000.

The Hall of Fame jockey celebrates his 56th birthday Sunday. With 9,479 victories, more than any rider in history, he has his sights set on a once-unthinkable number goal – 10,000.

"I'm getting closer and I'm feeling well," Pincay said. "I'm riding some nice horses, so we'll see what happens. I think it will be pretty easy to get to 10,000."

Since breaking Bill Shoemaker's record of 8,833 career wins on Dec. 10, 1999, a span of just over three years, Pincay has won 645 races.

Still, besides some rare exposure in a recent Sports Illustrated article and within the racing industry, Pincay rides in relative obscurity. Yet, he remains one of racing's favorite people, one whose popularity is only exceeded by his humility.

"I don't think about things like that (recognition)," Pincay said. "It doesn't really bother me. I don't care about things like that. I'm happy the way I am. I can go places and people don't even know who I am, and I like that.

Those famous people can't go anyplace, because they're bombarded (by fans)," Pincay said. "It can be a pain in the butt, so I'm glad I don't have that problem."

Through the decades, Pincay has remained good friends with Shoemaker, who was already a superstar when Pincay was beginning his career.

"I remember the first time I saw him," Pincay said of Shoemaker, now 71 and retired as a jockey since 1990. "I was amazed that he was so small. I said, 'How can this guy be so small and be so great?' Riding against him, I realized why he was so great. He was a natural. He's the best rider I ever rode against."