Jockey Sam Maple, in 1992.

Jockey Sam Maple, in 1992.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Retired Jockey Sam Maple Dies from Cancer

Retired jockey Sam Maple, who won more than 2,500 races, died Nov. 13 of cancer at his Wilmore, Ky., home. Maple and his family had moved to Wilmore from the Louisville, Ky. area in September after living there for a decade. He was 48.

Maple, whose older brother Eddie was an established New York rider for years, triumphed aboard such major winners as champion Smart Angle, plus Smarten, Jatski, and Heatherten. As champion 2-year-old filly in 1979, Smart Angle scored grade I wins in the Spinaway, Matron, Frizette, and Selima Stakes. The same year, Smarten won four Derbys--the American (gr. II), Ohio (gr. II), Illinois (gr. III), and Pennsylvania.

Jatski was Maple's big horse in 1977. He rode him to victory in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) and in graded stakes wins at Ak-Sar-Ben. Aboard the racemare Heatherten, Maple won several stakes, including the Apple Blossom (gr. I) and Hempstead (gr. I) Handicaps.

Maple was diagnosed with cancer in 1988 and underwent surgery. He hardly missed a beat, riding more than 500 mounts in both 1989 and 1990. He retired from the saddle in 1996 after having only six rides that year. Much of his time during his retirement was spent refurbishing houses and selling them. Maple's survivors include his wife, Jill, and four children.