Frank Hayes: The jockey who died during a race and still won it

Ed Angeli

Yes, you read that title right.

Frank Hayes, a 35-year-old jockey who was riding a horse named Sweet Kiss in 1923, New York; Hayes was a 20-1 outsider. Still, despite the odds being stacked against the jockey, they were neck and neck with race favourite, J. S. Cosden, who was riding a horse named, Gimme.

Nothing could separate Sweet Kiss or Gimme until the very end of the race where Hayes and Sweet Kiss achieved the unthinkable and crossed over a length and half ahead of the race favourite.

Trainers and punters who thought, ‘why not’, to backing a 20-1 outsider ecstatic; the crowd in a state of shock at the race favourite being stumped by a massive underdog.

However, what was to come was even more shocking. Upon crossing the finish line, fans went over to congratulate Hayes, only to find that he had fallen off Sweet Kiss, and the horse just walked over the jockey.

Dr. John A. Voorhees, who was the track doctor, rushed over to examine what was wrong with Hayes, and pronounced the jockey dead instantly.

The Guinness World Records then examined the race back, and claimed that Hayes died during the race; dying of a heart disease whilst racing Sweet Kiss. Further examinations suggest the heart disease could have been a combination of his training, along with the added impetus of being neck and neck with the favourite of the race.

What makes the fatal death of Hayes more remarkable is the fact the jockey was reportedly dead before the final jump. In what was a tragic day for horse racing, remains a tragic record that is still the only one to happen in the Guinness World Records.

Frank Hayes, the only jockey to win a race dead.