Frank Hayes (jockey)

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Frank Hayes (1888–1923) was a jockey who, on June 4, 1923,[1] suffered a fatal heart attack in the midst of a steeplechase[2] at Belmont Park in New York State, USA.

The accident[edit]

The thirty-five-year-old Hayes had never won a race before[3] and in fact by profession was not actually a jockey but a horse trainer[4] and longtime stableman.[5] The horse, a 20-1 outsider called Sweet Kiss, was owned by Miss A.M. Frayling.[2] Hayes apparently died somewhere in the middle of the race, but his body remained in the saddle throughout. Sweet Kiss eventually crossed the finish line, by a head[6] with Hayes technically still atop her back, making him the first, and thus far only, jockey known to have won a race after death.[7]


Hayes' death was not discovered until Miss Frayling and race officials came to congratulate him shortly after the race. It was theorised that the fatal heart attack was probably brought on by Hayes' extreme efforts to meet the weight requirements, possibly followed by the excitement of riding to the front of the pack.[2] The newspaper reported he had slimmed down from 142 pounds to 130 pounds in a very short time.[8]

After the discovery of Hayes' death, all further post-race regulations were waived by the Jockey Club, the result being declared official without the customary formality of weighing in.[9] Hayes, dressed in his colorful racing silks, was buried three days later.[3] The horse was never in a race again.[6] It was claimed that Sweet Kiss was nicknamed "Sweet Kiss of Death" for the rest of her life.[10]


  1. ^ "Frank Hayes, The Only Dead Man to Win a Horse Race". Neatorama. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  2. ^ a b c [ Displaying Abstract ]. "Jockey Dies as He Wins His First Race - Hayes Collapses Passing the Winning Post - Front Page -". Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  3. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Things that make you go...hmmm. Message Board - Msg: 28940447". 1923-06-04. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  5. ^ Unusual Death #9: A Stellar Finish. "Unusual Death #9: A Stellar Finish". Diabolique Magazine. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ Esteban. "Frank Hayes". 11 Tragic Cases Of Athletes With Bad Tickers. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Colin's Ghost: Thoroughbred Racing History » Jockey Dies in the Saddle, 1923". 2009-02-10. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  10. ^ "12 Essential Facts About the Folks Who Race Horses". Neatorama. 2010-07-15. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 

External links[edit]