Frank Hayes (jockey)

Frank Hayes (1901 – June 4, 1923) was a jockey who, on June 4, 1923, at Belmont Park racetrack in Elmont, New York,[2] won a steeplechase despite suffering a fatal heart attack in the later part of the race.[3]

Frank Hayes
Frank Hayes (jockey).jpg
Born1901 (1901)[1]
Died (aged 22)
Cause of deathHeart attack


The twenty-two-year-old[4] Hayes had never won a race before,[5] as by profession he was not a jockey but a horse trainer and stableman.[6][7] The horse, a 20:1 outsider called Sweet Kiss, was owned by Miss A. M. Frayling.[3] Hayes died in the latter part of the race and his body remained in the saddle when Sweet Kiss crossed the finish line, winning by a head, making him the first, and so far only, jockey known to have won a race after death.[8]


Hayes' death was not discovered until Miss Frayling and race officials came to congratulate him shortly after the race. It was suggested that the fatal heart attack may have been brought on by Hayes' extreme efforts to meet the weight requirements,[9] as a newspaper reported he had slimmed down from 142 pounds to 130 pounds in a very short time.[10]

After the discovery of Hayes' death, all further post-race formalities were waived by the Jockey Club, the result being declared official without the weighing in.[11] Hayes was buried three days later,[5] dressed in his racing silks at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.[12] The horse never raced again, and it's claimed that Sweet Kiss was nicknamed "Sweet Kiss of Death" for the rest of her life.[13]


  1. ^ "Fourteenth Census of the United States: 1920—Population". Department of Commerce: Bureau of the Census.
  2. ^ "Frank Hayes, The Only Dead Man to Win a Horse Race". Neatorama. October 29, 2012. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Jockey Dies as He Wins His First Race - Hayes Collapses Passing the Winning Post". The New York Times. June 5, 1923. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  4. ^ "Bury Jockey Frank Hayes in Holy Cross Cemetery". The Standard Union. June 6, 1923. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "The Only Dead Man in History to Win a Race at New York's Belmont Park". Curious History. Archived from the original on September 15, 2013.
  6. ^ "Things that make you go...hmmm. Message Board - Msg: 28940447". June 4, 1923. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  7. ^ Unusual Death #9: A Stellar Finish. "Unusual Death #9: A Stellar Finish". Diabolique Magazine. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  8. ^ Esteban. "Frank Hayes". 11 Tragic Cases Of Athletes With Bad Tickers. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  9. ^ Britton, Bianca (December 13, 2018). "Frank Hayes: The jockey who won a race despite being dead". CNN.
  10. ^ "Jockey Rides First Winner and Then Dies". The Auburn Citizen. Fulton History. June 5, 1923.
  11. ^ "Colin's Ghost: Thoroughbred Racing History » Jockey Dies in the Saddle, 1923". February 10, 2009. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  12. ^ The Standard Union
  13. ^ "12 Essential Facts About the Folks Who Race Horses". Neatorama. July 15, 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2014.