Frank Hayes

Frank Hayes


In 1923, a jockey "Frank Hayes" suffered a fatal heart attack but his horse finished and won the race, making him the first and only jockey to win a race after death.


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The thirty-five-year-old Hayes had never won a race before and in fact, by profession was not actually a jockey but a horse trainer and longtime stableman. The horse, a 20-1 outsider called Sweet Kiss, was owned by Miss A.M. Frayling. Hayes apparently died somewhere in the middle of the race, but his body remained in the saddle throughout. Sweet Kiss eventually crossed the finish line, winning by a head with Hayes technically still atop her back, making him the first, and thus far only, jockey known to have won a race after death.

Hayes' death was not discovered until Miss Frayling and race officials came to congratulate him shortly after the race. It was suggested that the fatal heart attack may have been brought on by Hayes' extreme efforts to meet the weight requirements, possibly followed by the excitement of riding to the front of the pack. The newspaper reported he had slimmed down from 142 pounds to 130 pounds in a very short time.

After the discovery of Hayes' death, all further post-race formalities were waived by the Jockey Club, the result being declared official without the customary weighing in. Hayes, dressed in his colorful racing silks, was buried three days later at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. The horse never raced again. It was claimed that Sweet Kiss was nicknamed "Sweet Kiss of Death" for the rest of her life.


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