Saying he and his horse, My Kentucky Breeze, gave it their best, jockey and Herrin native Robert A. “Cowboy” Jones, 70, finished a length behind the winner Tuesday at Fairmount Park in Collinsville.

Jones was that close from becoming the oldest horse jockey to win a thoroughbred race.

“Yea it was a thriller. We gave it our best stretch,” Jones said a few hours after the race.

He commanded My Kentucky Breeze into the lead down the stretch from a field of six horses, but was overcome near the finish line by winner Ola D. jockeyed by Uriel Lopez.

Jones said he thought My Kentucky Breeze could endure the final stretch with the lead, but knew if another horse came running from behind, “it was gonna beat me.”

The defeat was far from saddening for Kentucky Breeze owner Dale “Ben” Wessels, who was elated at Jones’ performance.

“It was a wonderful day. He (Jones) got lots of support. Horse racing is not for the pessimistic. I’m proud of Cowboy and his contribution to racing,” said Wessels, an SIU graduate who currently resides in Crete and works at the Balmoral Park and Maywood Park harness racing tracks.

Wessels described the crowd noise as “deafening” when Jones made his move with My Kentucky Breeze down the stretch.

“It was quite a deal. He (Cowboy) is so popular,” Wessels said.

Jones who is the brother of Richard “Itchy” Jones, the famed SIU and Illinois baseball coach, has won more than 2,300 races in his career. He once won three different races within 24 hours on the same horse. He has raced throughout the United States and Canada.

He will return to Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., where he gallops and exercises horses daily. Jones said he will continue to fulfill his quest to become the oldest horse jockey to win a thoroughbred race.

“I don’t feel like I’m the oldest. You gotta keep on going. I enjoy it,” he said.


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