Louisiana jockey Craig Perret won two Triple Crown races and numerous horse racing awards.
One of the many acclaimed jockeys to emerge from Louisiana in the latter part of the twentieth century, Craig Perret won two Triple Crown races, nearly won a third, and claimed two major awards for jockeys in the 1990s.
Born on February 2, 1951, in New Orleans, Perret was introduced to horses at the age of five. By the time he was seven, Perret was racing quarter horses, and by fifteen he was racing thoroughbreds. In 1967 he was the leading apprentice jockey in the country in terms of earnings.
In the 1987 Belmont Stakes, Craig Perret entered the starting gate at Pimlico aboard Bet Twice, a decided underdog to Alysheba, who had beaten them in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness by a narrow margin. Alysheba was the odds-on favorite to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. However, by the far turn of the one-and-a-half-mile course, Perret urged his mount to open it up, and the big chestnut stallion blew by the leaders and won the race decisively by fourteen lengths. Alysheba finished a distant fourth.
Perret won another leg of the Triple Crown aboard Unbridled in the 1990 Kentucky Derby. He had come very close to winning the Preakness in 1987 on Bet Twice, but lost to Alysheba by a half of a length.
During his thirty-eight year career, Perret finished in the money in 11,921 of his 27,164 starts, producing $113,837,299 in career earnings. His 4,415 wins rank forty-third all-time through 2013 and include victories in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (1984, 1990), the Belmont Stakes (1987), the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (1989), the Kentucky Derby (1990), and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (1996). He also won three Canadian classic races and fifty-four other major stakes races. In 1990 Perret tied the record for most wins during a single season, with fifty-seven.
Perret earned the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 1990 and the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1996. He was inducted into the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame (1994) and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (2006).
Perret makes his home in Shelbyville, Kentucky, where he runs a modest horse breeding and training operation.