Larry Lloyd Snyder (1942–2018)
As a jockey who raced thoroughbred horses, Larry Lloyd Snyder won 6,388 races from 1960 to 1994. Many of his wins came at Oaklawn Park (now Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort) in Hot Springs (Garland County).
Larry Snyder was born on June 29, 1942, in Toledo, Ohio. He dropped out of school in tenth grade and began working as a stable boy, with the hope of getting the opportunity to race. While cleaning stables and walking horses, he developed a relationship with the Van Berg family, which owned and trained many of the nation’s top thoroughbreds. With the help of Wendy Smith, who would book many of Snyder’s races, he won his first race on September 2, 1960. Snyder led the nation in 1969 with 352 wins, including the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park, aboard Jay Roam, owned by the Marion Van Berg Stable. On April 1, 1969, he won six races on a single program at Oaklawn Park, becoming the first jockey to win more than one race on a single program at that racetrack.
In the 1970s, Snyder raced successfully at Oaklawn Park and Arlington Park Race Track, in Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. At Oaklawn, in 1970, he won the Oaklawn Handicap and the Razorback Handicap. Snyder claimed the Arlington Handicap in 1974, the Arlington Matron Handicap in 1975, the Stars and Stripes Turf Handicap in 1975, and the American Derby in 1977 at Arlington Park. He rode Nostalgia to a thirteenth-place finish in the 1977 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Snyder returned to Oaklawn to claim the Rebel Stakes in 1978 and the Southwest Stakes in 1979.
The early 1980s marked the high point of Snyder’s racing career. After winning the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park Race Track in Oceanport, New Jersey, in 1980, he returned to Oaklawn Park that year to capture a second Razorback Handicap, followed by the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap in 1981. Snyder rode Top Avenger to a nineteenth-place finish at the 1981 Kentucky Derby. On August 16, 1981, he won five races at the Louisiana Downs Race Track in Bossier City, Louisiana. Three of the wins came in the Myrtlewood Stakes, riding Greenback Gert to victory in the first division, Val Cyn in the second, and Proud Wave in the third. Other wins that day came in the first race on the program aboard Knightly Quest and the eighth race on Up Limit. His performance established local and state records for stakes victories in a single day, equaled the Louisiana Downs record for five winners on a single program, and broke the track record for victories in a week, with fifteen.
Over the remainder of the 1980s, Snyder cemented his status as one of the nation’s best jockeys. In 1983, he won both the Southwest Stakes and Count Fleet Sprint Handicap for a second time each. Snyder claimed consecutive victories in the Rebel Stakes in 1982 and 1983. On September 2, 1984, Snyder garnered his 5,000th career win aboard Tennessee Rite in the Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs. He claimed a third Razorback Handicap title in 1986, as well a third Count Fleet Sprint Handicap in 1988. After winning the Arkansas Derby in 1989, Snyder rode Dansil to fourth-place finishes in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, that year. On August 24, 1989, he became the sixth American jockey to win 6,000 races, on Speedski, at Louisiana Downs.
Snyder retired in 1994, with 6,388 victories and career earnings of $47,207,289. Snyder was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1988, received the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1989, was inducted into the Fair Grounds Racing Hall of Fame in 1999, was honored on the Arkansas Walk of Fame in Hot Springs in 2001, and was nominated for induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2006. He worked as a race steward at Louisiana Downs and Oaklawn Park from 1995 to 2017.
Snyder died on October 29, 2018. He was survived by his wife, Jeanette, and son Larry Jr. His daughter, Lynette, preceded him in death.
For additional information:
“Jockey Sets Marks in Stakes Victories.” New York Times, August 17, 1981. Online at http://www.nytimes.com/1981/08/17/sports/jockey-sets-marks-in-stakes-victories.html (accessed October 5, 2021).
Perkins, Pete. “Oaklawn Legend Snyder, 76, Dies.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, October 31, 2018, pp. 1C, 5C.
Shottenkirk, Jerry. “Brothers, Snyder Team for Oaklawn Victory.” The Oklahoman, January 31, 1988. https://www.oklahoman.com/article/2214116/brothers-snyder-team-for-oaklawn-victory (accessed October 5, 2021).
Adam R. Hornbuckle
Spring Hill, Tennessee
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