Year Inducted: 2010
Around horses from the time he was born, the day after Christmas in 1944, Jerry Burgess began his career from humble beginnings in Heavener, Oklahoma.
The Burgess family always had horses they used in their cattle business and had others they kept for racing on the weekends at various bush tracks in and around the mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. Burgess was quickly acclimated to life in the saddle, riding his first match races at the age of 10 when he tacked weight of a whopping 60 pounds. Throughout his racing life, Burgess estimated he rode in thousands of match races, worth between $5 and $25,000.
Burgess started his official career as a jockey in 1960 at the age of 16, competing aboard both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds at venues across the country. It was with Quarter Horses that he achieved his greatest success, upon many of sport’s best.
Burgess won the 1975 All American Futurity aboard Bugs Alive In 75. He nearly won a second All American Futurity in 1980, crossing the line second to Higheasterjet while riding Mighty Deck Three, losing by just a nose in an extremely close photo-finish. Earlier in the summer of 1980, he won the $498,000 Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on Mighty Deck Three.
Dash For Cash, one of the most revered runners in modern-day racing, is rightfully connected to jockey Jerry Nicodemus. However, it was his friend Jerry Burgess that rode the colt to his first stakes victory in the 1975 Lubbock Futurity in Texas. Burgess would later pinch-hit for his injured pal when he received a call to ride Dash For Cash in the $100,000 Vessels Maturity at Los Alamitos in 1977. The trip west was worth it as Burgess found the winner’s circle aboard the great, covering 440-yards in 21.56 seconds, the fastest Vessels Maturity at the time.
Burgess also won the first El Primero Del Ano Derby at Los Alamitos in 1973 aboard Rebel Della, the 1970 Oklahoma Futurity on Full Moon Zestee, a pair of Sunland Park Winter Futurities with Mr Hay Bug in 1973 and again with Bugs Alive In 75 two years later. These are just a few of the many stakes wins he posted in a riding career that ended in 1987.
Since the early 1990s, Burgess has worked as a state racing steward in Texas and also officiated at the first Quarter Horse meeting conducted at historic Hialeah Park in Florida in 2010. His daughter Shaena is married to Quarter Horse racing’s all-time leading jockey, G.R. Carter.