Jockey Chris McCarron, announcing his retirement plans.

Jockey Chris McCarron, announcing his retirement plans.

Associated Press

Hall of Famer McCarron Announces Retirement

Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron announced Saturday, June 15, at Hollywood Park that he will retire from racing.

McCarron's last race will be on June 23. McCarron is slated to ride Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Came Home in that day's Affirmed Stakes (gr. III).

"The time has come for me to hang up my tack and focus my attention in a different direction," McCarron said, adding that he's looking forward to spending time with his family and promoting horse racing.

Through Friday, McCarron had 7,136 wins in his 28-year career, the sixth highest total in history. His mounts have earned more than $264 million, more than any other rider.

McCarron said he considered retirement after the Kentucky Derby last month. He was set to return to Southern California to ride in a race at Hollywood Park, but instead decided to stay with his wife in Kentucky. He watched the Hollywood Park race in his hotel room.

"As the horses hit the wire, something happened to me that never happened before," McCarron said. "I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but I didn't have any guilty feelings about not being there.

"I could feel the flame being extinguished that day," he said.

McCarron's riding career began in 1974 with a last-place finish aboard his first mount. His first winner came 16 days later on Feb. 9, 1974. He won that year's Eclipse Award as the nations top apprentice rider after winning a then record 546 races and securing riding titles at Pimlico, Delaware Park, Bowie, and Laurel.

McCarron moved his tack to Southern California in 1978 and won a second Eclipse Award in 1980. McCarron was the regular rider of Eclipse Award winners Alysheba, John Henry and Tiznow, and Paseana and Flawlessly during their championship seasons. He coupled with Tiznow to win consecutive renewals of the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). In 1996, he rode Alphabet Soup to victory at the Breeders' Cup Classic, ruining Cigar's grand farewell.

McCarron has won each of the Triple Crown races -- the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes -- twice. He won the Derby with Alysheba in 1987 and Go for Gin seven years later. In the 1997 Belmont Stakes, McCarron guided Touch Gold to victory, spoiling Silver Charm's bid for the Triple Crown.

McCarron also won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1980 and the Mike Venezia Memorial Award in 1991. He earned his 7,000th career win on April 28, 2001 aboard Spinelessjellyfish.

McCarron has also been active off the track. In 1987, he and his wife, Judy, and actor/comedian Tim Conway established the Don MacBeth Memorial Fund for disabled jockeys. He also serves on the Jockey's Guild executive committee.