Tis the season, so why beat around the bush? Our nomination for athlete of the year is the 17-year-old secretary-treasurer of the Kentucky conglomerate called Steve Cauthen Associates.
Not Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees, not Bill Walton of the Blazers, not Walter Payton of the Bears, not even Virginia Wade of Wimbledon, but Steve Cauthen of the race tracks, the Superkid who started the year as an apprentice jockey and who will end it as a millionaire and as the most remarkable performer in the cutthroat world of professional sports in 1977.
That’s right: A little child shall lead them. Not only that, but two related thoughts: 1. the thoroughbred Affirmed will be voted 2-year-old champion of the year. And 2. Cauthen will open 1978 on the valuable back of Affirmed and will have one sweet chance of riding him to victory in the next Kentucky Derby.
Going into this weekend he has ridden more than 1,900 horses this year with 454 wins, 319 seconds and 282 thirds. Total purse: $5.7M which is a million more than the record set last year by Angel Cordero Jr. The jockey takes 10% of the prize money. He also has a musical recording and an advance on a book plus assorted other revenues.
Twice this year he has ridden 6 winners in one day. 4 times he has had 5 winners. 13 times 4 winners and 41 times 3 winners.
Ex NYT 12/15/77