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William J. Knapp

William J. Knapp
Induction Year: 
1969
Career Years: 
1901-1919
Number of Mounts: 
4,185
Number of Winners: 
649
Winning Percentage: 
15.50%

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Bio

    William Knapp rode in the early years of this century and brought home winners 15.5% of the time. He was born in the Midwest and won his first race at age 13. Weighing only 56 pounds, Knapp was nicknamed "Big Bill" during the years he rode the Midwest circuit. In 1905 he transferred his tack to New York where he was known as Willie.

 

    Willie Knapp is best remembered for three upset victories. His first upset came in the 1917 Brooklyn Handicap when he rode 9-year-old Borrow to victory over stablemate RegretOld RosebudRoamer, and Omar Khayyam. In 1917 Knapp was also the regular rider of Sun Briar, a favorite for the Kentucky Derby. When Sun Briar's training went poorly, his trial horseExterminator was entered at 30-1 odds. Knapp considered his 1918 Kentucky Derby win on Exterminator his biggest thrill in racing. The following year Knapp rode the most famous Upset in history in the 1919 Sanford Stakes when he defeated Man o'War. It was Man o'War's only loss.

 

    In 1921 when Henry McDaniel retired, Knapp took over the training of Exterminator and saddled him for five stakes victories. He also trained Upset Lad, Risque, Valenciennes, Pairbypair, Seven Veil, and Three Rings. Knapp ended his career around the tracks as a clocker and official.

 

    William J. Knapp was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1969.

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