John "Johnny" Eric Longden
John Eric Longden was an American Hall of Fame jockey. He was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England but his father wanted to build a better life for his family so in 1909 emigrated to Canada, settling in Taber, Alberta. By 1912 Longden Sr. had saved enough money to send for his wife and young son to join him in Canada. However, the Longden's train was late getting to the port of Southampton and they missed their scheduled voyage to New York City on the Titanic.
As a young man, Johnny Longden worked in the mining industry but with a love of horses and horse-racing, his small stature led him to leave Canada in 1927 to seek opportunities as a jockey in California's burgeoning racing scene. Based at Santa Anita Park, by 1956 he had become thoroughbred racing's winningest rider, breaking the record of 4,870 wins by British jockey Sir Gordon Richards (1904-1988). During his illustrious career, Longden, who was called "The Pumper" by his fellow jockeys because of his riding style, rode many of the great thoroughbreds of the day and in 1943 he captured the elusive United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes aboard Count Fleet. A sculptured bust of John Longden, along with busts of fellow jockey greats, William Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay, has been placed in the paddock area at Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California.
A founding member of the Jockeys' Guild in 1940, Johnny Longden was the United States' leading jockey in races won in 1938, 1947, and again in 1948 and was the leading jockey in purses won in 1943 and 1945. He was voted the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1952 that honors a rider whose career and personal conduct exemplifies the very best example of participants in the sport of thoroughbred racing. In 1958, Longden was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and retired the following year as the jockey with the most wins in racing history with 6,032 victories from his 32,413 mounts. His last ride was in the 1966 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita Park which he won aboard George Royal in a thrilling stretch duel. In the Clubhouse at Santa Anita Park there is an oil painting of the finish of the 1966 San Juan Capistrano which was also used for the cover of the Santa Anita official program during the 1967 racing season.
Johnny Longen operated a racing stable under the name Alberta Ranches Ltd. in partnership with longtime friend, Max Bell. On January 28, 1971, Longden's wife Hazel became the first woman to train a stakes winner at Santa Anita Park when her horse Diplomatic Agent won the San Vicente Stakes. His sons Eric and Vance Longden both became horse trainers.
Following his retirement from riding, Longden turned to training and became the only person to ever win the Kentucky Derby as both a jockey and trainer when he captured with 1969 Derby with Max Bell's colt, Majestic Prince. Longden was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame on its formation in 1976 and in 1994 he was recognized further by the North American racing industry with a Special Eclipse Award.
Johnny Longden died on his 96th birthday at his home in Banning, California.
As of 2006, Longden still holds five track records at Santa Anita Park.
Longden was a Latter-day Saint.
During the 1956-57 season of "I Love Lucy", Longdon portrayed himself in the episode entitled "Lucy And The Loving Cup." Desi Arnaz as "Ricky" was to award the cup to Longdon, but Lucy wears the cup on her head and is later unable to remove it.