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Legendary Cowboy Jones was back in winner’s circle at Ellis — as a horse owner; ‘first time on foot’


R.A. “Cowboy” Jones for many years was a fixture in the Ellis Park winner’s circle.

He’s still a fixture at the track, but until Sunday his last time in the winner’s circle was aboard Awtair on Aug. 24, 2004, according to Equibase. 

That’s Cowboy — in the cowboy hat (Photo provided)


But that was Cowboy front and center in the winner’s circle — however, as an owner — after jockey Edgar Morales won the sixth race with Matt’s Honey, who paid $21 to win in the $5,000 claiming race. Jones co-owned Matt’s Honey with Dennis O’Keefe’s O’Keefe Circus, with Bryan Cole training the 3-year-old filly.

Jones and O’Keefe had Matt’s Honey only three races, with Cowboy now out of the ownership business as the filly was claimed.

“First time I’ve been in the winner’s circle on foot,” said Jones, who last rode in a race in 2014 and who is pushing 80 years old. “I told that jock, ‘I’ve never thrown a jock up on a horse before. I hope I don’t throw you over.’ It was fun. My riding days are probably pretty much being over. I enjoyed talking to the jock before the race. We agreed on everything. I said, ‘She can run, but she hasn’t put forth any effort.’ He rode perfect to instructions. He couldn’t have rode any better if it had been me on it.”

Jones is an Ellis Park icon as much for being a character as his riding and has been immortalized with an Ellis Park bobblehead. Jones won races during six different decades and fell just short of becoming the first jockey to win in seven different decades. He remains a popular fixture with the public, attending the races every day and constantly asked by fans to get a photo with him.

In the winner’s circle — on foot — for Cowboy Jones, 80


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