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Joe Aitcheson, Jr.

Joe Aitcheson, Jr.
Induction Year: 
1978
Career Years: 
1957-1977
Number of Mounts: 
2,457
Number of Winners: 
478
Winning Percentage: 
19.50%

Tab Wrapper

Bio

    Joe Aitcheson, Jr. was born on July 31, 1928 in Olney, Md. His father pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the younger Aitcheson grew up working for his uncle’s riding stable, cleaning barns and guiding trail rides.

 

    After high school, Aitcheson enrolled at the University of Maryland before enlisting in the United States Navy. He served four years during the Korean War as a gunner’s mate on the U.S.S. Oriskany. Upon his discharge at age 28, Aitcheson became a steeplechase jockey, arguably the greatest of all time.

 

    When he retired from riding, Aitcheson had won a record 440 steeplechase races and led all North American jump riders in wins a record seven times, including a record 40 wins in 1964. He also won 38 races on the flat at hunt meetings during his career.

 

    Aitcheson won eight Virginia Gold Cups, seven Carolina Cups and six International Gold Cups. He also won five Temple Gwathmeys, five Noel Laings, five Midsummers and five Manlys. 

     Aitcheson rode many of his era’s champions, including Peal (1961), Amber Diver (1963), Bon Nouvel (1964, 1965 and 1968), Tuscalee (1966), Top Bid (1970) and Soothsayer (1972).

 

    Aitcheson, whom legendary writer Red Smith once said was “held together with bailing wire and tape” because of the numerous injuries he suffered through riding, became the first jump jockey ever to receive the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association’s F. Ambrose Clark Award in 1976.

 

    “I lived steeplechasing. I ate, drank and slept it,” Aitcheson once said in Daily Racing Form. “If I rode a bad race it would take me three of four days to get over it.”

 

    Joe Aitcheson, Jr. was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1978.

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