Robert “Bobby” Ussery’s Story: A Living Legend in our Midst
In the month of May while the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness were happening, the Presidential Place team realized they had a living legend in their midst. He is Robert “Bobby” Ussery and he recently moved to the community. Mr. Ussery has 3,611 horse racing wins as a jockey, with a 17.5 winning percentage and ranks among some of the game’s best. He retired in 1974 and six years later, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Disqualification at the Kentucky Derby
Mr. Ussery can speak to Medina Spirit’s disqualification at this year’s Kentucky Derby and the two-year suspension of Bob Baffert. Ussery experienced it himself. He was hoping to get two back-to-back Kentucky Derby wins, the most prestigious race in the country. In 1967, he rode Proud Clarion to victory and then in 1968 he rode Dancer’s Image across the finish line in first place. He found out days later that Proud Clarion had failed a drug test, which set off a lengthy court battle that came to an end in 1973.
In 1935, Mr. Ussery was born in the tiny town of Vian, Okla., just west of Fort Smith, Ark. He grew up on a farm picking cotton and cutting vegetables. At the age of six, he started riding horses and soon after entering races on bush tracks. He started racing with a team in Texas, but his first stakes race came in 1951 at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans where he rode Reticule to victory in the Thanksgiving Handicap.
By the end of the fifties, he had won the Travers, Whitney and Alabama Stakes. He had over 60 major racing wins, which included five wins in 1960, with three stand out wins at the Hopeful Stakes, the Florida Derby and the Preakness.
One of his most memorable races was riding Windfields Farm’s colt New Providence to a win in 1959 at Canada’s most prestigious race, the Queen’s Plate.
Welcome Robert “Bobby” Ussery to Presidential Place
Mr. Ussery says horse racing made him into the man he is today. He has survived triple bypass surgery and now he wants to let someone else do the chores. He has better things to do, like watch horse racing. The Presidential Place team is more than willing to oblige.
Josh Navarro of WPTV speaks with retired Hall of Fame horse jockey Bobby Ussery, who lives in South Florida in the senior living community Presidential Place, to get his opinion on life as a jockey and the upcoming Preakness Stakes race.
Source: Hal Habib, “Bobby Ussery, who saw 1968 Kentucky Derby win taken from him, sees no hope for Bob Baffert and Medina Spirit,” Palm Beach Post, n.p., May 10, 2021, PalmBeachPost.com.
Source: Josh Navarro, “Former horse racing Hall of Fame jockey speaks about 146th Preakness Stakes,” WPTV News, n.p. May 15, 2021
Source: Emmett Hall, “Hall of Fame jockey Bobby Ussery maintains passion for horse racing,” Sun Sentinel, n.p., May 20, 2021 sun-sentinel.com