Jockey Frank Hayes died of a heart attack while racing Sweet Kiss at Belmont Park in 1923, but the horse continued to finish first with Hayes still in the saddle. Hayes was buried in his racing clothes, and Sweet Kiss was never raced again.
In the intense and sometimes dangerous sport of horse racing, jockeys have occasionally died during races after falling from a racing Thoroughbred. Similarly, racehorses have been known to have heart attacks and die in the middle of a race. Frank Hayes, however, is the only known jockey to have died in a horse race, and he continues to finish in first place.
Hayes apparently suffered a heart attack while riding Sweet Kiss during a two-mile (3.2 km), 12-jump steeplechase at New York City’s Belmont Park in 1923. Despite the death of his rider during the race, the horse she continued to clear the last fence and cross the line ahead of her rivals, with Hayes still in the saddle.
Win, place and… oh, no:
Washington Post sports writing legend Shirley Povich reported that Hayes appeared to hand-ride his mount in the latter stages, slumped over the horse’s neck. The jockey fell off his saddle shortly after crossing the finish line.
The New York Times reported that Hayes was an apprentice jockey. “The attack probably (was) brought on by hard training for weight gain and the subsequent excitement of riding his first winner,” the paper speculated. Hayes was buried three days later in his racing clothes.
Sweet Kiss – supposedly dubbed the “Sweet Kiss of Death” after the tragic accident – was never raced again. No other jockey would ride her.