Get In Line Jean

There’s an article in today’s Lexington Herald about Seattle Slew’s jockey Jean Cruguet and whether he deserves induction into the Hall of Fame. All the greats from his era have already been inducted, among them Braulio Baeza, Jorge Velasquez, Jacinto Vasquez, Angel Cordero and Steve Cauthen. All were no brainers for induction. But having seen Jean ride many times, I for one do not
wonder why he isn’t in the Hall of Fame. His notoriety is largely an accident of fate. It was Slew’s talent that elevated Cruguet and made this talk of inducting an otherwise ordinary rider into the Hall of Fame. I saw Cruguet manhandle many a mount and lose many a photo to more skillful riders like Cordero and Cauthen. If all other things about a race were equal, Cordero or Cauthen would get my two dollars over Cruguet. During Seattle Slew’s triple crown campaign, I even remember reading articles in the press suggesting that Bill Turner take Jean off Slew and get a better rider.

Before inducting Jean, I’d like to see overlooked riders like Eddie Maple, Jose Santos or Jorge Chavez inducted. Why even riders like Pat Valenzuela (where are you these days Pat?) and Chris Antley, who both had careers shortened by drug abuse accomplished more on the track than Jean Cruguet.

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