Chris McCarron Biography | BCTC

Chris McCarron Biography

By 2006, when NARA was officially launched, the work of putting together an industry advisory council had already taken place.  However, for NARA to really have a chance to succeed it was going to take someone with a great deal of passion for this program and a high profile to attract the attention of a vast racing industry.

Thankfully, recently retired Chris McCarron agreed to move to Lexington as NARA's first Executive Director and lead instructor. 

Although McCarron retired from NARA in March 2015, BCTC, NARA and the racing and breeding industries will always be thankful for all he has done to help grow NARA into the successful program it is today.

"I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to have been part of the creation of the first racing academy in the United States. As odd as it may seem, although the United States offers one of the best breeding programs and conducts some of the finest racing in the world, its racing industry has never had a formal training program for professional race riders. Welcome to the North American Racing Academy." - Chris McCarron, Hall of Fame jockey and Founder of NARA


Work Experience

  • First job: Worked as a hot-walker for trainer Odie Clelland in summer of 1971
  • After high school graduation: Continued to learn about training and riding Thoroughbred racehorses at Suffolk Downs in Boston and then at Bowie Race Course in Maryland
  • First mount in a race: MOST ACTIVE at Bowie Race Course, January 24, 1974; finished last
  • First winner: Tenth mount, EREZEV, at Bowie Race Course, February 9, 1974
  • Competed professionally for 28 years, four years in Maryland and 24 years in California and at tracks throughout North America and the world
  • Color analyst for major races, including Triple Crown events and the Breeders' Cup, on ABC, NBC, ESPN, HDNet and TVG
  • Served as race designer for the feature film Seabiscuit and played the role of Charlie Kurtsinger, War Admiral' s jockey
  • General manager of Santa Anita Park, March 31, 2003, to October 31, 2004
  • Vice president of Industry Relations for Magna Entertainment Corporation, November 1, 2004, to February 20, 2005


  • 1974: Rode a record 2,199 races and won a record 546 races to lead the nation while still an apprentice (record stood for 15 years)
  • 1975: Led the nation riding 465 winners to become the first jockey ever to win more than 1,000 races in a two-year period (1,011)

Won virtually every major race in North America:

Six Triple Crown victories:

Kentucky Derby: 1987 on ALYSHEBA, 1994 on GO FOR GIN
Preakness: 1987 on ALYSHEBA, 1992 on PINE BLUFF
Belmont: 1986 on DANZIG CONNECTION, 1997 on TOUCH GOLD

Nine Breeders' Cup victories:

Classic: 1998 on ALYSHEBA, 1989 on SUNDAY SILENCE, 1996 on ALPHABET SOUP, 2001 and 2002 on TIZNOW
Sprint: PRECISIONIST, 1985
Distaff: PASEANA, 1992
Juvenile: GILDED TIME, 1992

  • Led nation in races won: 1974, 1975 and 1980
  • Led nation in money won: 1980, 1981 and 1984
  • First jockey in history to reach the $200 million earnings plateau
  • 1987: Co-founded the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund, which assists disabled jockeys and their families financially and emotionally, with my wife, Judy, and our friend comedian Tim Conway (raised more than $2 million and assisted over 1,600 jockeys and their families)
  • Retired: June 23, 2002, as all-time leader in earnings category (over $260 million in purse earnings) and moved to seventh in the win category with 7,141 winners


  • 1974: Eclipse Award for outstanding achievement as the nation' s leading apprentice
  • 1980: Eclipse Award for outstanding achievement as the nation' s leading jockey
  • 1980: George Woolf Memorial Award for service and conduct
  • 1980 through 1984: Seagram Seven Crowns of Sports Award for leading the nation in statistical categories, five times
  • 1980 and 1981: National Turf Writers Association Rider of the Year
  • 1989: Inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in first year of eligibility
  • 1991: Mike Venezia Award for outstanding achievement and sportsmanship

Champions Ridden

Alysheba, John Henry, Paseana, Precisionist, Lady' s Secret, Sunday Silence, Flawlessly, Glorious Song, Turkoman, Bayakoa, Northern Spur and Tiznow