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Victory No. 6,450 Moves Fires into Ninth All-Time

Churchill Downs Communications | 06/13/2008 #
  • Fellow riders join Earlie Fires in the winner's circle on June 7, 2008, as he passes Sandy Hawley to move into ninth place in races won.

Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires notched career win number 6,450 on Saturday to pass fellow Hall of Fame rider Sandy Hawley and move into sole possession of ninth-place on the list of North America’s all-time leading jockeys in races won.

The milestone win came aboard Frank Calabrese’s Luga in the 5th race at Arlington Park, where Fires is the track’s all-time leading rider with 2,866 scores. Earlier in the day, Fires tied Hawley at 6,449 tallies when he guided John & Shana Schiemann & Susanne Rogalski’s Sixty Deelites to take the third race.

Fires was saluted by his fellow riders in the winner’s circle where a sign commemorating the yardstick was unveiled.

“I think the world of Sandy Hawley so it really bothered me about passing him. It bothers everybody when they pass someone they like,” Fires said. “Sandy was a great rider and he’d probably still be riding had he not gotten cancer. He had to stop to try to get rid of the cancer. Frank (owner Calabrese) has put me on a lot of live horses and got me to this number quicker than I would have thought.”

The 61-year-old native of Rivervale, Ark., has announced his intention to retire sometime during the Arlington Park meet, which concludes on Sept. 21 but has not given any specific date. He has 15 wins at the current session, which places him tied for fourth in meet standings.

Click here to see Jessica Pacheco interview Earlie Fires