Johnny Sellers

Johnny Sellers (July 31, 1937 – July 3, 2010) was an American jockey. Born in Los Angeles, but raised in Oklahoma, he began his professional career in 1955 and between 1959 and 1968 rode in six Kentucky Derbys. He won the prestigious race aboard Carry Back in 1961 then riding the colt to victory in the Preakness Stakes. That same year, he won eight straight races, equaling an American record set in 1951, and ended the year as the United States Champion Jockey by wins. He made the August 28, 1961 cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.

Johnny Sellers
Born(1937-07-31)July 31, 1937
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedJuly 3, 2010(2010-07-03) (aged 72)
Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery, Claremore, Oklahoma[1]
Career wins2,787
Major racing wins
Washington Park Handicap (1958, 1960)
American Derby (1960)
Arlington Classic (1960)
Remsen Stakes (1960)
United Nations Handicap (1960)
Florida Derby (1961)
Jerome Handicap (1961)
Stars and Stripes Handicap (1961)
Alabama Stakes (1962)
Monmouth Oaks (1962)
Carter Handicap (1962)
Saratoga Special Stakes (1962)
Test Stakes (1962)
Whitney Handicap (1962)
Adirondack Stakes (1963)
Diana Handicap (1963)
Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap (1964)
Brooklyn Handicap (1965)
Great American Stakes (1965)
Juvenile Stakes (1965)
Ladies Handicap (1965)
Suburban Handicap (1965)
Travers Stakes (1965)
Kentucky Oaks (1967)
Blue Grass Stakes (1967)
Hollywood Derby (1967)
Frank E. Kilroe Mile (1968, 1971)
San Gorgonio Handicap (1968)
Highlander Handicap (1969)
San Juan Capistrano Handicap (1969)
San Luis Obispo Handicap (1968, 1971)
San Pasqual Handicap (1968)
Del Mar Handicap (1970)
Strub Stakes (1971, 1973)
Del Mar Oaks (1972)
El Encino Stakes (1972)
San Felipe Stakes (1972)

American Classic Race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1961)
Preakness Stakes (1961)
Belmont Stakes (1965)

International race wins:
Canadian International Stakes (1958)
Woodbine Oaks Stakes (1969)

Racing awards
United States Champion Jockey by wins (1961)
George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award (1969)
United States' Racing Hall of Fame (2007)
Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame (2011)
Significant horses
T. V. Lark, Carry Back, Hail To All, Cool Reception

In 1958, Sellers rode Jack Ketch to victory in the Canadian International Stakes and in 1965 he won the Belmont Stakes aboard Hail To All. In 1969 he was voted the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.[2]

Retired in 1997, Sellers lived in Hallandale, Florida, two blocks from Gulfstream Park racetrack. He remained involved in the racing industry as a bloodstock agent. In 1999, he was in the news after recovering his Kentucky Derby trophy. Stolen from his Monrovia, California home in 1978, twenty-one years later a friend notified him that the engraved sterling silver trophy was being offered for sale on eBay.

In 2007, Johnny Sellers was elected to the United States' Racing Hall of Fame.[3] In 2011, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame.[4]

Johnny Sellers died on July 3, 2010 at age 72 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.[5] He had two sons, Mark Sellers and John Michael Sellers, both of whom had careers as jockeys. He also had a daughter, Sabrina Sellers Machado.

After finishing seventh at the Belmont Stakes with Carry Back, he was a Mystery Guest on What's My Line with Arlene Francis, Joey Bishop, Dorothy Kilgallen, and Bennett Cerf on the panel. Sellers won $10 for stumping Cerf and Francis; Joey Bishop successfully guessed his identity.


  1. ^ "John L. Sellers". Findagrave (w/ tombstone photo). 2019-11-04. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  2. ^ TIME magazine, March 24, 1961
  3. ^ National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Archived 2011-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "John Sellers". The Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame at Remington Park. 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2019-11-10.
  5. ^ Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Sellers dead at 72 Archived 2010-07-12 at the Wayback Machine