Delahoussaye/Pincay Dinner

California Thoroughbred Trainers
Honor Jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye
and Laffit Pincay, Jr.

Pincay-Delahoussaye Dinner IMAGE
Laffit Pincay Jr., Eddie
Delahoussaye and Trainer
Patrick Gallagher (left to right)

LAFFIT PINCAY, JR. AND EDDIE DELAHOUSSAYE
by Jay Hovdey

Fire and ice, Laffit and Eddie D. They were brothers in arms through good times and bad, both de-commissioned but still in one piece. They take the stage tonight, standing and proud, as the California racing industry gathers to honor two of its finest kind.

Eddie Delahoussaye is the tall one, the pride of delta country, with the battleship jawline and the honeydew drawl.

Laffit Pincay comes more compact, sculpted to perfection, a prime cut of Panamanian manhood.

Delahoussaye spent his career in the saddle lulling everyone else to sleep. On the lead, buried in the pack, lagging far behind-he never tipped his hand. Chris McCarron once said that you never, ever knew how much horse Eddie D. had left. Sometimes even the horse was surprised.

The Pincay style was more direct, a simple approach in the style that worked well for Gen. George Patton and the third Army as they tore thorough France. If you beat Laffit, Gary Stevens would say, you knew you have earned your pay.

Standing side by side, they give off a regal air. Funny how 15,914 winners will do that. Pincay contributed 9,530, while Delahoussaye’s share came to 6,384. Between them, with a combined total of nearby 70 years of competition, there were 87,700 mounts.

They made the most of them. Among those thousands were three Kentucky Derbies, five Belmonts, and 14 Breeder’s Cup victories, including a Breeder’s Cup Classic for each. As a result, visitors to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs will find plaques for both Delahoussaye and Pincay on the walls of the Hall of Champions.

However, such statistical profiles tell only part of the story. It is the men behind those facts and figures who are being honored. They are mentors to young colleagues and inspiring to their peers, as well as being consummate horsemen and tireless advocates for the welfare of their dangerous profession.

The common sadness in their otherwise happy careers was the ending. Neither Pincay nor Delahoussaye was allowed to choose the day. Delahoussaye went down hard on the Del Mar grass course on Aug. 30, 2002, when his mount was fatally injured. Pincay fell to earth for the last time on March 1, 2003, crossing the dirt on Santa Anita’s down hill course.

Both men sustained neck injuries that are still in the healing process. Neither Pincay, who is 57, nor Delahoussaye, at 52, was willing to risk permanent disability on a comeback try. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t thought about it. And they both miss riding, deep in their hearts.

On this particular night, Delahoussaye and Pincay are allowing their good reputations to be used in pursuit of funds to further the work of the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation. The Foundation exists to improve the quality of life for the people who take care of the horses that populate California’s racing industry.

It comes as no surprise that both Delahoussaye and Pincay were tangled in some glorious history with the late Eddie Gregson, the trainer, owner, breeder and industry leader in whose name the Foundation was established.

Pincay was a regular on any number of Gregson’s top horses, including Royal Chariot, Tsunami Slew, Kittyluck and Super Diamond, who was one of nine Pincay winners of the Hollywood Gold Cup.

In 1982, Gregson and Delahoussaye collaborated to make history in the 108th Kentucky Derby, upsetting the field with the gray colt Gato del Sol. Delahoussaye went on to win the 1983 Derby with Sunny’s Halo, while Pincay followed in 1984 with his Derby winner, Swale.

“I loved Eddie,” Delahoussaye said. “He is a great guy, and he was great for racing. He went out of his way to help a lot of people, and didn’t ask for any thanks.

“I’m really impressed with the work of the Foundation,” Delahoussaye went on. “I knew they were helping the backstretch kids with scholarships, but I didn’t realize they’d helped so many.

“I always connect with the grooms, the guys that work with the horses,” he added. “They’re hard-working people who don’t get the credit they deserve. Without them, we’d have nothing. If you don’t have a top groom who loves his work, it shows in the animal’s performance.”

Pincay echoed Delahoussaye’s sentiments. “I think a lot of people who work on the backstretch,” Pincay said. “I’ve got a lot of friends there. They work very hard. The well-being of the horses depends a lot on those guys.

“And they can help you a lot as a jockey,” Pincay added. “They can tell you about the horses, how they are doing. I’m happy to help them if I can.”

Since his official retirement last May, Pincay has been publicly honored several times, including a memorable ceremony at Hollywood Park.

Delahoussaye, on the other hand, declined offers for such overt displays of respect and affection. He said he wasn’t quite sure how he would handle it, and he didn’t want to find out. When it became clear that Eddie D. would never ride again, there were a few private gatherings to mark the moment and hundreds of personal expressions, and Delahoussaye was grateful.

Now, the Gregson Foundation evening will be the first time a large public audience from the racing world will be able to pay tribute to Delahoussaye’s career. Why the change of heart?

“It’s a real good cause,” Delahoussaye replied. “And I’ll get Paddy Gallagher to write me a few jokes, so I’ll be okay.”


Career Highlights

EDDIE DELAHOUSSAYE

  • Inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 1993.
  • One of four riders to win consecutive Kentucky Derbies (Gato Del Sol, 1982; Sunny’s Halo, 1983). Isaac Murphy, Jimmy Winkfield and Ron Turcotte are the others.
  • Became the seventh jockey to reach $100 million in career earnings on June 23, 1991, at Hollywood Park, when Fowda won the Hollywood Oaks.
  • 6,000 winner: Sweetcakesanshakes on Feb. 7, 1999 at Santa Anita. Became the 14th jockey to reach the plateau.
  • 5,000 winner: Ackler on March 10, 1993, at Santa Anita.
  • 400th Oak Tree winner: Anastazim on Oct. 10, 1995, for trainer Richard Mandella. Only fellow Hall of Famers Chris McCarron and Laffit Pincay Jr. have more.
  • George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award winner, 1981.
  • Lead nation in victories with 384 in 1978.
  • Riding titles: Oak Tree (1989, ’93), Santa Anita (1982), Del Mar (1989), and Hollywood Park (1989 autumn). Won four titles at Keeneland, two at Fair Grounds, and one each at Arlington Park and Churchill Downs before coming west.
  • Rhode longshot Mr Purple in 1996 for his first victory in the Santa Anita Handicap.
  • Tied Chris McCarron’s 1979 Oak Tree record with seven stakes Victories in 1989.
  • Named one of the top 100 athletes in Louisiana history by New Orleans Times-Picayune.
  • Ranks fourth all-time at Santa with 1,422 wins, and fifth with 154 Stakes wins.
  • Won the final four races at Oak Tree on Oct. 6, 2001, including the Ancient Title Breeders’ Cup Handicap aboard Swept Overboard. All four horses rallied from last to win.

LAFFIT PINCAY, JR.

  • Inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 1975.
  • Is the only six-time Eclipse Award Winner in any category: 1971, ’73, ’74, ’79, ’85 and ’99. Received his special 1999 Eclipse for the
  • singular achievement
  • of breaking Bill Shoemaker’s record total of 8,833 victories on Dec. 10, 1999.
  • Registered unprecedented 9000th career victory Oct. 28 at Oak Tree, aboard Chichim for trainer Juan Garcia in California Cup Distaff.
  • Pincay rode a track record five stakes winners at Oak Tree on Oct. 28, 2000, capped by Sky Jack’s 11-1 upset in the $250,000 Cal Cup Classic.
  • Remarkable 2001 campaign, winning riding titles at Santa Anita Winter/Spring, Hollywood Park Spring/Summer, and Oak Tree meetings. Finished second at Del Mar, two wins behind Alex Solis.
  • All-time leading rider at Santa Anita with 2,742 wins and Oak Tree with 644 wins.
  • 8,834th win: Irish Nip on Dec 10,1999, in the sixth race at Hollywood Park. It was his 44,647th career mount. With the win, he become racing’s all-time leading rider, passing legendary Bill Shoemaker. Tied Shoemaker with victory number 8,833 aboard I Be Casual on Dec. 9, 1999 at Hollywood Park.
  • Won Santa Anita-record seven races on March 14, 1987, including six in a row. Had six-win days on Feb, 17, 1973, and March 4, 1981 at Santa Anita; at Hollywood Park on April 27, 1968; at Del Mar on July 28, 1976, and July 29, 1978.
  • Won his 500th Oak Tree race Oct.6, 1995, aboard Flying Winner. He is the all-time leader rider at Oak Tree.
  • Riding titles: Santa Anita (14, most recent 2000-2001 Winter/Spring); Oak Tree (1976, ’78, ’82,’00,’01); Hollywood Park (15, most recent 2001 Spring/Summer); Del Mar (1976,’77,’79,’82,’85); Saratoga (1971); Arlington Park (1967), and Hawthorne (1968). Holds Santa Anita record with 19 stakes wins during 1982-83 winter meet, which was tied by Corey Nakatani in 1996-97.
  • Replaced Steve Cauthen aboard 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed following the 1979 San Fernando Stakes. The horse never lost again. He won his final seven starts by a combined 29 ½ lengths. The first two races with Pincay were the Strub and the Big ‘Cap.
  • Set world record of 1:27 for 7 1/2 furlongs aboard Robyn Dancer on May 16, 1991, at Hollywood Park.
  • Rode Spend A Buck to win 1985 Jersey Derby and a $2-million bonus. The total $2,600,000 win money was a national record.
  • George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award winner, 1970.
  • Received 1985
  • Big Sport of Turfdom Award
  • from TPA