Hall of Fame Jockey Bobby Ussery Dies at 88 

November 17, 2023

Eric Kalet Photo

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Kentucky Derby and Preakness winning jockey Bobby Ussery, Hall of Fame inductee, ranked fifth all-time in earnings when he retired in 1974, has passed away in South Florida.

Ussery, a native of Vian, Oklahoma, was 88.

Ussery won the 1967 Kentucky Derby aboard 30-1 longshot Proud Clarion. It was a mount Ussery picked up after his original Derby mount, Reflected Glory, couldn’t make the race due to sore shins. He won the 1960 Preakness (G1) with Florida Derby (G1) winner Bally Ache.

Sports Illustrated called Ussery’s ride aboard Proud Clarion “one of the best in Derby history.” Ussery thought he might have a good weekend in Louisville.

“I might have won it with Bally Ache in 1960, but we finished second,” he said. “Then I thought I’d win it this year with Reflected Glory. When that didn’t work out, I still figured – just a hunch, I guess – that it was my year, no matter what horse I rode. I had a real hunch.”

Ussery’s riding career started with a win aboard his first mount, Reticule, in the 1951 Thanksgiving Day Handicap at Fair Grounds. In 1959 he rode a record 215 winners. In 1960 he rode juvenile champion Hail to Reason and won the Preakness, Flamingo and Florida Derby on Bally Ache. He also crossed the finish line first in the 1968 Derby, but his mount, Dancer’s Image, was later disqualified.

Other notable wins for Ussery came in the Whitney, Alabama, Travers, Hopeful, Mother Goose, Canadian International and Queen’s Plate, and the Wood Memorial twice.

Arrangements are pending.

Expressions of sympathy may be made in Ussery’s memory to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund at pdjf.org.

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