Steve Cauthen was born May 1, 1960 in Covington, Ky. He grew up around horses as his father was a trainer and a farrier. Given that upbringing, along with his small size, horse racing was a logical career choice for Cauthen.
His first race as a jockey was May 12, 1976 at Churchill Downs. He finished last. Success, however, came quickly. He rode his first winner (RED PIPE) less than a week later at River Downs.
To say that 1977 was a breakout year for Cauthen would be an epic understatement. He was the nation’s leading rider with 487 Wins. In only his second year of riding, he became the first jockey to win $6 million in a single season, passing that mark in December of 1977 on a 3-year-old filly named LITTLE HAPPINESS at Aqueduct Park.
In 1977, Cauthen won numerous awards, including Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, Sporting News Sportsman of the Year, Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year, and ABC’s Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year. In the same year, he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey and the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in the United States.
In 1978, Cauthen became the youngest jockey to ever win the U. S. Triple Crown, riding Hall of Famer AFFIRMED to victories in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. It was after this series of victories that he would simply be dubbed ‘The Kid’.
As he grew older, Cauthen had increasing problems making weight. In 1979, he moved to England, where jockeys normally compete at higher weights, and became a highly successful rider there, as well as in Ireland, France, Germany, and Italy.
Cauthen was British Champion Jockey three times, and won 10 European classic races, including the Epsom Derby twice, and the St. Leger Stakes three times. He also won the Irish Oaks twice, and in 1989 rode European Horse of the Year OLD VIC to victory in both the French and Irish Derby.
The Daily Racing Blog salutes Mr. Steve Cauthen, who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1994. Way to go Kid !