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Johnny Adams

three-time United States champion jockey (1937, 1942 and 1943) and fourth American jockey to reach 3,000 wins during his career

John H. Adams was born in Carlisle, Arizona, on September 1, 1914, and grew up in Iola, Kansas. It was his boyhood home, along with his incredible career as a jockey, that earned him the nickname "Iola Mite."

Adams rode his first race at the age of 15, at the fairgrounds in Uniontown, Kansas, in 1929. He won his first race in major competition at Riverside Park, Kansas City, Missouri, in 1934, on "Marble Girl," and then went on to one of the most successful careers in horse racing history. By the time he retired in 1958, Adams had amassed a record 3,270 wins, 2,704 seconds and 2,635 thirds, had ridden a total of 20,159 mounts, and had racked up purse winnings of almost $10 million. His career highlights included winning the 1939 Santa Anita Handicap on "Kayak II," in what he himself called his most memorable race, and riding "Hasty Road" to a win in the Preakness Stakes and a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, in 1954. His 3,00th win came on May 21, 1955, when he rode Mister Black to victory in the Continental Turf Handicap at Washington Park in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

Johnny Adams with Hasty Road
Johnny Adams with Hasty Road

In 1961, Adams became a charter inductee into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 1965.

Following his retirement, Adams spent many years as a public trainer on the Pacific coast. Among the many notable horses he trained were Niarkos, who won the San Juan Capistrano in both 1967 and 1968 and J.O. Tobin, who upset Seattle Slew in the 1977 Swaps Stakes. He died in Arcadia, California, on August 19, 1995.

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This page was last updated on May 06, 2018.