Host Ed Sutkowski talks with John L. Rotz a Hall of Fame Jockey.
After graduating high school in 1952, Mr. Rotz worked at Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville, Illinois as a groom, hot walker, and exercise rider. And then he began riding professionally in 1953. Nicknamed “Gentleman John” because of his polite demeanor, he gained a reputation for being able to handle temperamental Thoroughbreds.
During a 20-year riding career, Mr. Rotz rode in 20,286 races and won 2,907 races, i.e., a winning percentage of 14.3%, including 11 major wins. He won more stakes races than any other jockey in American racing. He earned two wins in the American Classic Races, the first coming in 1962 when he rode Greek Money to victory in the Preakness Stakes, A year earlier, he had finished second in the Preakness aboard Globemaster and earned another second place finish in 1968 with King Ranch’s Out of the Way. He got his second Classic race win aboard High Echelon in the 1970 Belmont Stakes. Mr. Rotz was inducted in the United States’ National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1983.
In 1973, Mr. Rotz was voted the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, given to a jockey in North America who demonstrates high standards of personal and professional conduct, on and off the racetrack. He retired from riding that year following surgery for a foot injury, but he remained active in the industry, working for ten years as a racing steward at various racetracks in Louisiana, Ohio, Delaware and New York. While working at Thistledown Racecourse in North Randall, Ohio in 1975, he met his wife, Mary, whose sister was a horse trainer at the track.