"New" photo from 1955, added March 4, 2004 Kathy McKinley, who became a fan of Bill Hartack when she lived close enough to visit Dover Downs in Delaware on her bicycle when she was a young girl, sent the photo above after finding our pages during research on Blacklick Valley's most accomplished and top-earning athlete. She wrote: "Iíve attached a photo of Hartack taken . . . in 1955 at Laurel Race Course in Maryland. The original caption on the photo reads: 'Two Big Days for Jockey Hartack. Laurel, Maryland: Jockey Bill Hartack has reason to point with pride as he indicates his two big days, April 18 and April 25 at Laurel. Hartack was aboard six winners in seven races at Laurel on the 25th, and on April 18 he rode five consecutive winners plus two seconds in seven races. April 29, 1955.' 1955 was the year that Hartack won the first of three consecutive riding titles for the most wins by a jockey in a given year. He was a fantastic rider and is my all-time favorite." In response to our request for additional information on Hartack, Kathy, who now lives in California, sent links to several important additions to the Hartack legend. See the end of this article for the links.
Blacklick Valley's most famous
athlete - Bill Hartack (1932-2007)
Bill Hartack dead at 74, see article here
Hartack on February 1958 cover of Time Magazine Later photo
by Reed Palmer
Jockey Bill Hartack (born December 9, 1932), shown here on a February 1958 cover of Time Magazine, has been called by some sports experts the greatest rider of the 20th Century. He won the Kentucky Derby five times (1957, '60, '62, '64, and '69), of his first nine entries. A native of Blacklick Township who grew up on his widowed father's farm north of Belsano, Hartack, 5'4" tall and 111 lbs., left the farm to pursue his interest in riding at age 17, after graduating in the class of 1950 from Blacklick Township High School. Hartack also rode the winning horses in the Preakness three times (1956, '64, and '69) and in the Belmont in 1960.
Hartack has been described as "hating the news media," perhaps because many of them, including Time, insisted on calling him "Willie," probably because an already famous jockey was a "Willie" (Shoemaker), when his name was Bill. Little biographical information is available on him. Time says he had won 341 races and taken in $3 million by age 25. Numerous relatives of the Hartack family still reside in Blacklick Valley and Cambria County. At the time of his death on November 26, 2007, he had been employed as a steward at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La.
Additional information and photographs from his youth and/or career are solicited for this page.
In response to the request above, Kathleen McKinley sent the following links to additional information on Bill Hartack and his amazing career, with this note: "Here are a few interesting bits and pieces. The first three Sports Illustrated articles, which are autobiographical, are very good. Sports Illustrated has many, many other articles that deal with him, too, which can be found in its on-line archive, SI Vault. If you click on the link that says "View This Issue" near the top of each article, under the title, you get a PDF of the entire issue, so you can see the accompanying photos. Bill was also covered in feature articles in mainstream magazines like Life, Saturday Evening Post, Time, and Esquire, not to mention coverage in the racing press (plus appearances on radio and TV with Larry King, Dick Cavett, etc.). There's actually a lot out there if you look for it, and with so much on the Internet now, it's pretty easy to track things down."
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