Share this article

print logo

This Day in Buffalo Sports History August 7, 1977 -- Jockeys cross bridge

This day in 1977 marked the 50th anniversary of the ceremony marking the opening of the Peace Bridge. About 100,000 turned out for the event, which was broadcast coast-to-coast on radio.

It's an appropriate day, then, to recognize a big day in the history of Fort Erie Race Track, which has been attracting American racing fans for generations.

Fort Erie convinced some of the greatest jockeys in North America to "cross over the bridge" and take part on All-Star Jockey Day and celebrate the bridge's 50th birthday. A crowd of 16,172 turned out for the event, and wagered $1,233,483 -- a record at the time.

Some mighty big names came to ride that day. Start with Sandy Hawley, who learned the business after giving up thoughts of becoming a plumber for a living. Hawley became a top jockey in Toronto, and then in Canada, in virtually no time at all in the 1960s. He moved to the United States from there, but was still a frequent visitor to Fort Erie.

Then there was Bill Shoemaker, one of the most famous jockeys of all time. He won a Kentucky Derby in 1955 and in 1986, and nine other Triple Crown races.

The list also included Avelino Gomez, Ron Turcotte, Jeff Fell, Jean Cruget, Robin Platts and Angel Cordero Jr. If your horse lost on that day, chances were good it wasn't the rider's fault.

-- Budd Bailey

There are no comments - be the first to comment