Jim Gaffney

Secretariat’s exercise rider Jim Gaffney passed away on June 3, 2010 succumbing to a debilitating battle with emphysema. Jim will long be remembered for his quick smile, and the kindness and generosity he shared perpetuating the Secretariat legacy. A true ambassador for the sport of horse racing, Jim will be missed by his many friends and fans, and especially by his Meadow Stable peers.

We are proud to spotlight Jim Gaffney. Jim was one of Secretariat’s exercise riders and has made a wonderful contribution to the world of racing, to fans and to various projects to better the sport.

On the farm - Powell, Ohio Jim & Ron Hialeah Park - December, 1972 Saratoga 1999
“My first mount” (in back)
July 4th, 1936 – Powell, Ohio
Jim & Ron Hialeah Park
December, 1972
At the window
Saratoga Racecourse, 1999

I would like to thank, Penny Chenery, the NTRA and Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation for the long awaited site for the Great Secretariat and the research of Laminitis from which we lost him.

I had been on race horses almost all of my adult life when I stepped up on Secretariat the first time in April, 1972. I had this big red machine under me and from that very first day I knew he had a power of strength that I have never felt from a two year old horse before. The very first time Lucien Laurin told me to work him a quarter mile the April morning at Belmont Park, I told him that he would be RUNNING REALLY FAST and he said so let him. I went a quarter in 21 seconds and I believe that Lucien realized at that time we had a racehorse on our hands.

I was just one of the spokes of the wheel that had helped Secretariat on his path to greatness and immortality. Any good trainer, exercise rider, groom, or jockey could have done what we did. It was SECRETARIAT that did it, we just pointed his head and he would do it from there… It was a beautiful ride….

I feel honored and proud to have been a small part of his life and miss him dearly. I guess animals have a way of growing on you and he certainly did with me and will always have a place in my heart.

Sincerely, Jim Gaffney

Click Here to View the Jimmy Gaffney Collection of Original Memorabilia

Photo courtesy of Raymond Woolfe.


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