Five-time Derby win­ning jockey Bill Har­tack dies of heart dis­ease at age 74

Hall of Fame jockey dies on hunt­ing trip

The Covington News - - SPORTS -

FREER, Texas — Bill Har­tack, a Hall of Fame jockey and five-time Ken­tucky Derby win­ner, has died while on a hunt­ing vacation. He was 74.

Har­tack died Mon­day night from nat­u­ral causes due to heart dis­ease, said Dr. Corinne Stern, the chief med­i­cal ex­am­iner in Webb County.

Stern said Har­tack’s fam­ily has been no­ti­fied, and funeral ar­range­ments were be­ing made.

Har­tack and fel­low Hall of Fame rider Ed­die Ar­caro are the only jock­eys to win the Ken­tucky Derby five times. Known for his burn­ing de­sire to win ev­ery sin­gle race, Har­tack won his first Derby aboard Iron Liege in 1957. He then won with Vene­tian Way in 1960, De­cid­edly in 1962, North­ern Dancer in 1964 and Ma­jes­tic Prince in 1969.

Har­tack won the Preak­ness aboard Fabius in 1956, North­ern Dancer in 1964 and Ma­jes­tic Prince in 1969. He won the Bel­mont Stakes once, with Celtic Ash in 1960.

“He was my idol,” said trainer Mike Stid­ham, whose fa­ther, Ge­orge, was Har­tack’s agent. “I was at the ‘69 Derby when he won with Ma­jes­tic Prince. He was a great per­son to grow up around. He was a kid at heart.”

Har­tack rode un­til 1974 and had 4,272 wins from 21,535 mounts, win­ning nearly 20 per­cent of his races. He later rode in Hong Kong from 1978-80.

He re­mained in rac­ing as a stew­ard, work­ing the past few years in that role at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La.

Hall of Fame rider An­gel Cordero didn’t know Har­tack well, but was aware of his ac­com­plish­ments.

“I rode with him a lit­tle bit at the end of his ca­reer,” Cordero said Tues­day. “When I first came to this coun­try and met him, it was like meet­ing a su­per­star — he was a jockey ev­ery­one had heard about.

“He was very smart. And he was amaz­ing with the whip — he could hit a horse left-handed com­ing around the turn, and the horse would never go out.”

Har­tack won his first race in 1952 at West Vir­ginia’s Water­ford Park, and he was elected to thor­ough­bred rac­ing’s Hall of Fame in 1959, at the age of 27.

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