For forty years Johnny Longden has been climbing onto the backs of thoroughbred horses and racing them as fast as he could.
For forty years Johnny Longden has been climbing onto the backs of thoroughbred horses and racing them as fast as he could. He rode his last mount before retiring last Saturday and in typical Longden style Johnny's farewell was a victorious one aboard George Royal at Santa Anita in California.
The event was the San Juan Capistrano handicap and Longden -- in the pink silks with black hat -- was trailing the rest of the entries as the horses passed the grandstand for the first time in this mile and three quarter race.
In the backstretch -- barely visible in the fog and smog of southern California -- Longden moved George Royal up from seventh position of fifth. The 5 year old has a reputation for coming from behind and he seemed to be living up to that. At the load of the stretch it was a duel between George Royal -- number ten on the outside -- and Plaque. Longden put the whip to George Royal and edged him over the wire by a nose to win. It was the second straight victory in the San Juan Capistrano invitational for Longden and the horse. It was also Longden's 6,032nd victory...An all time world record for victories...and a glorious way to end a career. Usually its the horse that gets the blanket of poises... but Saturday at Santa Anita, Johnny Longden got the flowers.