John L. Rotz
John L. Rotz is a retired American Thoroughbred horse racing jockey and an active World Champion in Western riding competitions.
After graduating high school, in 1952 Rotz went to work at Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville, Illinois. After working as a groom, hot walker, and exercise rider, he began riding professionally in 1953. Nicknamed "Gentleman John" because of his demeanor, he gained a reputation for being able to handle temperamental Thoroughbreds.
During a twenty-year career, John Rotz won many of the most important races across the United States and in 1969 and 1970 won more stakes races than any other jockey in American racing. He earned two wins in the American Classic Races, the first coming in 1962 when he rode Greek Money to victory in the Preakness Stakes, A year earlier he had finished second in the Preakness aboard Globemaster and earned another second place finish in 1968 with Out of the Way. He got his second Classic race win aboard High Echelon in the 1970 Belmont Stakes.
In 1973 John Rotz was voted the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, given to a jockey in North America who demonstrates high standards of personal and professional conduct, on and off the racetrack.. He retired from riding that year following a knee injury but remained in the industry, working as a racing steward at various racetracks for ten years. While working at Thistledown Racecourse in North Randall, Ohio in 1975, he met his wife Mary whose sister was a horse trainer at the track.
John Rotz retired as a racing steward on March 31, 1983. He and his wife returned to his native Warrensburg, Illinois where they purchased a 280-acre (1.1 km2) farm. Mary Rotz became involved with the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife through her Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation program while John turned to riding Quarter horses in Western riding competitions. In 1987, he won the National Reining Horse Association Novice Horse Non Pro World Championship. Nearly twenty years later, and in his early seventies, he is still competing.
John Rotz was inducted in the United States' National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1983.