Collected wisdom: Jockey Roy Brooks
Rider is 71 and still taking mounts at Remington Park.
Roy Brooks is a legend in quarter horse racing. The jockey has won more than 1,700 times in his career and ridden in more than 12,000 races. At age 71, Brooks is still actively riding race horses today.
I started in 1967. I have been a jockey 45 years. There was one other rider from Michigan older than me, whether he retired this year or not, I don't know.
Maybe this year I will retire. I won the Heritage Derby (at Remington Park) in May and a reporter called me and said I became the oldest rider to ever win a race. I was 70. I take pride in that.
More than one person has asked me why I am still riding. I think that is what keeps me young and keeps me going. I get around pretty good.
I used to work harder at it. I am probably better because I don't worry about winning or losing now. I just go out and do my job.
The last couple of years I haven't ridden many races because in 2010 a horse flipped on me and broke my pelvis. The horse landed right in my lap. When 1,200 pounds land in your lap, that's not fun at all. Then last year I had a bad concussion.
Everybody asked me why I came back (after the injury). I am just a competitor. I just like the competition even though I'm much older than everybody that I ride against.
I grew up in Blanchard. I was always into sports when I was growing up in high school. Not too many people believe this, but I played football in high school. They listed me on the program at 125 pounds, but with my pads on I might have weighed 115. I was a halfback and defensive safety.
I started out riding when my dad bought some race horses. My uncle had race horses as long as I can remember. Jack Brooks is my cousin. He's got the big statue at Remington Park and he has won the All-American seven times as a trainer.
My dad had bought these race horses and one day I decided, ‘Hey, I'm little enough,' I will just learn how to ride them. I've told more than one person that I fell off a horse more than I was on 'em the first years I rode. I hit the ground a lot.
The horse racing business is more competitive now. There are lot more people that have good horses than when I first started riding.
In 1971, my cousin Jack Brooks had a stable of horses at Raton, N.M., at La Mesa Park. It's closed now. I went out to work for him. I took a leave of absence from my job at Western Electric. I won the Oklahoma Derby that year and I decided I might as well not go back to work (for Western Electric).
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