The kid named Cauthen was riding in a horse show one day last
summer, on a mount named Apple Fritter, but the crowd at the
Boone County (Ky.) Fair hardly seemed to notice. For the Cauthen
in the saddle wasn't Steve, the best young jockey Kentucky ever
saw, but his three-year-old daughter, Katelyn, who was competing
on her pony for the first time in the lead-line class. "She
didn't place," says her old man, who just turned 37, "but they
gave gold medals to all the kids afterward, so she was happy.
She doesn't really know what the places mean anyway."
Give Katelyn time. She's just in preschool, after all, and her
dad didn't take horse racing by storm until he was a junior in
high school. As a 17-year-old apprentice jockey in 1977, Cauthen
rode 487 winners, earned a record $6.15 million in purses and
was named our Sportsman of the Year. He saved his finest moment,
however, for the following June at the Belmont Stakes. There, 19
years ago, Cauthen coaxed Affirmed to a head-bobbing victory
over Alydar to complete his sweep of the Triple Crown.
One year later the Kid was gone, an expatriate. After a
disastrous 110-race losing streak at Santa Anita that stretched
from New Year's Day to Feb. 8, 1979, he accepted an offer to
ride for British racehorse owner Robert Sangster and spent the
next 14 years mastering the European turf courses. Three times
England's leading jockey, Cauthen became the first rider to win
the world's four major derbies--Kentucky, Epsom, French and
Irish--before returning home to Kentucky in 1992.
Today, when not playing golf or doing promotional work as the
associate vice president of Turfway Park racetrack, in Florence,
Ky., Cauthen repairs to his 300-acre farm in nearby Verona,
which he shares with his wife, Amy, their daughters--Katelyn,
now 4, and Karlie, 19 months--and a stable of six horses. Recent
additions include a broodmare and a newborn colt, the start of
Cauthen's small but serious entry into the breeding business.
"One thing that made me proud about winning the Triple Crown was
that it drew a lot of people to racing," he says. "But racing
has fallen behind, and we need to attract new fans. Anything I
can do to help, I will."
He won't return to riding, though there have been offers. "The
competitive edge is still inside me, but I've lost the desire to
lose weight," says Cauthen, who grew four inches between '78 and
'81 and fought to maintain his 119-pound racing weight. "If I
didn't have weight problems," he says, today a comfortable 138,
"I'd race until I was 50."
COLOR PHOTO: ANTHONY EDGEWORTH[Cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED featuring Steve Cauthen]