The Life and Times of Laffit Pincay Jr. 

In 1966 and aged just 19 years of age, a young Panamanian jockey named Laffit Pincay Jr. was sponsored by well-known horseman Fred W. Hooper. He took the young jockey from his home in Panama City and awarded him a contract to ride in the US.

Pincay made his U.S. racing aboard Teacher’s Art, who he rode to victory at Chicago’s Arlington Park in July of 1966. Incredibly, the teenager won 8 of his first 11 rides in the US and never looked back.

In 1970, just four years later, he received the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. The award honors a rider whose career and personal conduct exemplifies the very best example in the sport of thoroughbred racing. That accolade was quickly followed by his induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1975.

In 1979, Pincay took over the reins from Steve Cauthen to become the regular rider of Affirmed. After a disqualification in his first race, he went on to win his remaining nine races aboard the famous Triple Crown winner.

In 1996, he was awarded the Mike Venezia Memorial Award, to honor his “extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship.” Finally in 2003, Some 37 years after his explosive US debut, Pincay retired having written his name into the history books and become one of most accomplished and admired figures in racing.

Famous Wins

In 1984, Pincay claimed his one and only Kentucky Derby win aboard the favorite Swale. In a recent interview, the jockey said the Kentucky Derby was “The race I most wanted to win,” after finishing second and third on previous occasions. He went on to say that winning the derby was everything he thought it would be.

“You feel like you have done something great. You’ve won the best race in the world – or the United States – and everyone is clapping for you and your horse. That is something I will never forget and I am glad I was able to enjoy it at least once.”

That victory is one that fellow Panamanian jockey, Luis Saez, will be hoping to emulate. He will be aboard Dornoch who is among the early favorites for the Run for the Roses according to the latest Kentucky derby odds.

Pincay also rode Conquistador Cielo (1982), Caveat (1983), and Swale (1984), to consecutive editions of the Belmont Stakes. He compiled seven Breeders’ Cup race wins in total, including the Classic in 1986 aboard Skywalker, however, the much sought after Triple Crown somehow eluded him.


U.S. Triple Crown wins:

  • Belmont Stakes – 1982, 1983, 1984
  • Kentucky Derby – 1984

Breeders’ Cup wins:

  • Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – 1985, 1986, 1988
  • Breeders’ Cup Classic – 1986
  • Breeders’ Cup Distaff – 1989, 1990
  • Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – 1993

Other notable wins:

  • Hollywood Gold Cup — 9 times
  • Santa Barbara Handicap — 8 times
  • San Bernardino Handicap — 7 times
  • Santa Anita Derby — 7 times
  • Los Angeles Handicap — 6 times

Records and Awards

In 1999 he broke Bill Shoemaker’s all-time record as racings winningest jockey. When Pincay finally called time on his illustrious career in April 2003, he was the sports winningest jockey with an incredible 9,530 career victories. Although that mark has since been broken, he remains third on the all-time list behind Jorge Ricardo and Russell Baze.

Winningest Jockey

1.Russell Baze – 9,549

  1. Jorge Ricardo – 9,531
  2. Laffit Pincay Jr. – 9,530
  3. Bill Shoemaker – 8,833
  4. Pat Day – 8,803

Laffit Pincay Jr’s. incredible career and record nine victories in the Hollywood Gold Cup, saw the Hollywood Park Racetrack announce the creation of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award in 2004. Designed by American sculptor Nina Kaiser, the award is presented to those who have served the horse racing industry with integrity, dedication, determination and distinction. It is presented annually on Hollywood Gold Cup Day.

The Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey was first awarded in 1971, and is an American thoroughbred horse racing honor awarded to jockeys. Laffit received award a record 5 times during his career, although that mark has since been overtaken by Jerry Bailey with 7.

In 1999, Laffit was given the Eclipse Special Award. Its purpose is to honor outstanding individual achievements in, or contributions to, the sport of horse racing and is not awarded every year. Pincay also boasts a win percentage of 20 percent which is the fourth best on record, and has only been beaten by Russell A. Baze, William Shoemaker, and Pat Day. Inducted

  • US Champion Jockey by earnings – 1970-1974, 1979, 1985
  • US Champion Jockey by wins 1971
  • Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey – 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1985
  • Eclipse Special Award 1999
  • National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame inductee – 1975


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