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Iowa History Daily: May 5 - Mack Garner Runs for the Roses

Iowa History Daily: On May 5, 1934, hooves thundered and the crowd went wild while Iowan Mack Garner raced down the homestretch on the back of Cavalcade to capture the Kentucky Derby. One of several notable jockeys from the Garner family of Centerville, Andrew “Mack” Garner went on to win almost $3 million while winning 1,346 races over a 22 year career.

Born Andrew Garner in Centerville on December 23, 1898, Mack grew up one of seven brothers to achieve jockeying success nationally from the standout riding family. His father, Theodore Garner, taught Mack to ride at a young age. By the time he turned fifteen, all 5’3” and 67 pounds of Marck Garner proved ready for the racetrack when he made his professional debut on Gold Ball at Butte, Montana, on July 16, 1914. A month later he won his first race.

In 1915, Mack vaulted to national acclaim as he won more races and prize money than any other jockey in the nation. He again accomplished the feat in 1929 when he took home $314,975. A hot hire, the 1923 Des Moines Register proclaimed Mack “has ridden for every important horse racer in the country.”

Garner gained greater attention when he beat national favorite Morvich on the relatively unknown horse Surf Rider at Saratoga Springs during August of 1922. In 1929, and again in 1933, Garner rode horses to victories in the prestigious Belmont Stakes before ultimately winning the ‘run for the roses’ in 1934.

Gone tragically too soon after a series of blood clots led to three heart attacks on October 28, 1936. The 37 year old Garner raced earlier in the day at River Downs in Cincinnati, and passed away at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Covington, Kentucky. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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