“My wife Mary Ryan-Hirsch and I have been hosting ‘Horsemen Dinners’ in south Florida the past several years. Once a month, we gather up a crowd of horsemen and meet at a restaurant near Gulfstream Park and have one of these get togethers. We usually get a crowd of 60-75 guests.

One of the highlights of the evening takes place after dinner when we ask anyone in attendance to get up and tell their favorite racing story. On such a night at the Surf Club on Miami Beach we had one of these dinners and future Hall of Fame jockey Jacinto Vasquez told this story. It brought the house down!

Jacinto was the regular rider of Eclipse Award turf horse Noble Dancer trained by Hall of Famer T. J. ‘Tommy’ Kelly. Tommy was there that night along with another Hall of Fame jockey Don Brumfield and a few stewards who were in the stewards stand the day Noble Dancer was running in the United Nations Handicap at Atlantic City. Noble Dancer was the top-weighted horse in the race and the 3-5 favorite.

After the break Jacinto wound up on the rail in the 1 1/2 mile turf race. Around the far turn he was still trapped on the rail with Brumfield on a longshot lapped alongside Noble Dancer. Jacinto yelled to Brumfield, ‘Let me out, you’re on a dead horse.’ Jacinto offered him $500. Brumfield replied back to Jacinto, ‘I can’t hear you.’

After turning down the initial $500 offer and then another for $1,000, Brumfield began to ease his tiring longshot out when Jacinto raised the offer to $1,500. At $1,500, Brumfield yelled back to Jacinto, ‘Ok, I hear you, now come on through!’

Jacinto and Noble Dancer went on to win the race; our dining room roared with laughter with all the horsemen clapping their hands wildly, even Tommy Kelly and the two stewards. After that, several horsemen asked Brumfield if Vasquez paid him and Don replied, ‘Absolutely, the very next morning.’”


Bill Hirsch is a retired racehorse trainer and the son and grandson of Hall of Fame trainers William Hirsch and Max Hirsch.

Horse Racing Business 2020