When did Laffit Pincay beat Bill Shoemaker’s record for the most winners ever?
Born in Panama City, Panama in December, 1946, Laffit Pincay Jr. rode his first winner, Huela, in his hometown in May, 1964, at the age of 17. However, it was in the United States – to which he travelled, under the auspices of legendary owner/breeder Fred W. Hooper, in 1966 – where he would find his fame. After initially plying his trade in Florida, Chicago and New York, Pincay Jr. settled in California, where he would eventually be recognised as the natural successor to Bill Shoemaker on the West Coast racing circuit. Indeed, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975, at the age of 28.
Shoemaker eventually retired in 1989 with 8,833 winners to his name, thereby setting a world record for career victories that would stand for a decade. However, on December 10, 1999, Pincay Jr., 52, surpassed Shoemaker’s total on Irish Nip at Hollywood Park. Reflecting on his achievement, he said, ‘ The record means a lot because Shoemaker is the greatest jockey I ever rode against. It’s a record I never thought anybody could come close to.’
Pincay Jr. retired in April, 2003, with 9,530 winners to his name. Once again, it was mooted that his own record may never be broken, but it has been, twice, by Canadian Russell Baze, with 12,844 career victories, and Brazilian Jorge Ricardo, with 13,069.