Blum, Walter

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BLUM, WALTER ("Mousy "; 1934– ), racing jockey; the only Jewish rider to have earned a spot in the Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, n.y. Born in Brooklyn, New York, to a newspaper delivery man, Blum took to riding early, shining shoes in order to afford trips to the horse stables. He dropped out of high school to go work for trainer Hirsch Jacobs at age 16 as a horse walker. At 18, he rode his first mount, Ricey, on May 4, 1953, and his first winner, Tuscania, on his 14th ride at Saratoga, n.y., on July 29, 1953. Over a 22-year career from 1953 to 1975 spent mostly in New York and later in Florida, Blum rode in 28,673 races and won 4,382, for a winning percentage of 15.3 percent. Among his more famous horses were Royal Beacon, his first $100,000 stakes victory in the 1957 Atlantic City Handicap; Pass Catcher, with whom he dashed the Triple Crown hopes of Canonero ii by winning the 103rd Belmont in 2:30.6 on June 5, 1971; Summer Scandal; Boldnesian; Gun Bow; Mr. Prospector; the filly Priceless Gem, with whom he beat Horse of the Year Buckpasser in the Aqueduct Futurity in 1965; Lady Pitt; and Affectionately, whom he considered his best mount. Blum's best day was June 19, 1961, when he won six of eight races at Monmouth Park. He was national riding champion in 1963 with 360 wins in 1,704 races, and again in 1964 with 324 wins. One of his most exciting races was a photo finish with Gun Bow over Kelso in the 1964 Woodward Stakes. In 1974 Blum became the sixth jockey to ride 4,000 winners, and upon his retirement only four other jockeys – Bill Shoemaker, John Longden, Eddie Arcaro, and Steve Brooks – had won more races. Blum later worked as a racing official, and also served as president of the Jockeys' Guild in the early 1970s. Blum won the George Woolf Memorial Award in 1965, presented to the jockey whose career had brought credit to his profession, and was inducted into the National Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1987.

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]