COLLINSVILLE, IL. (KTVI) – It takes character to commandeer a racehorse. And Cowboy Jones is quite a character.
‘I come from a family of school teachers,’ says 70 year old jockey Robert “Cowboy” Jones. ‘My brother just retired as the head baseball coach at the University of Illinois, Itchy Jones. When we grew up as kids he was Itchy Jones and I was Scratchy.’
But once Robert started racing horses, the legend of Cowboy Jones began.
‘The only difference between me and a real cowboy, they come from out West and I come from a local Walgreen’s,’ says Jones.
Jones` life has been about numbers.
He once stood five foot nine inches tall, he’s broken 83 bones during the course of his career and his first win was in 1959.
‘Everything was a one, it was the first race of the meeting, the horse had the one hole, the horse was a favorite, it was the first time I had raced on a recognized race track and he won by a length,’ says Jones.
Today at Fairmount Park Racetrack he mounted up to make horse racing history.
Cowboy Jones was trying to win a race in each of the last seven decades.
‘They’re so polite now they’ll shut somebody off and give a bump to somebody and come back and apologize,’ says Jones. ‘When I used to come back and got bumped we’d come back swinging. If we came back swinging and didn’t hit anybody we’d do a little cussing. That’s how I learned all the cuss words I know.’
He didn’t cuss with his second place finish.
After all, the horse carried a lot of weight, what with everyone in the stands riding along and rooting for the cowboy.
‘We had a lot of fun today,’ says Ben Wessels the owner of ‘My Kentucky Breeze’ the horse Jones rode. ‘We’re a little disappointed but racing is not for the pessimistic. It’s for the optimistic.’
Which means the cowboy will ride again to reach the record books.
‘It’s a horse like this that wants to make you want to keep riding, cause you’ve always got that chance to win,’ says Jones.
And if age is just a number, you can bet this cowboy’s got one more win in him.