Jacinto Vasquez and I are standing by the OTB tent and he is reliving the 1979 Travers, but the fun started two nights before at the Travers Ball. Apparently, Jacinto was seated at the table with many of the owners whose horses were to start in the big race in 2 days. Low and behold, after a relaxed dinner and some dancing, one of the other owners, specifically Carl Lizza, who had Screen King in the Travers, leans over to Jacinto and asks him what his riding strategy was going to be in the Big race. Jacinto tells Carl, who was a very well respected owner (and Jocks are always very respectful to owners because they never know where their next ride is going to come from), tells Mr. Lizza that he thinks he will change tactics a bit and because of the inside post, let the other horses on the outside of him get the lead and he would come from out of it and close to get the win. The night goes on, but like most riders, trainers, and Jockeys the carriage always turns into a pumpkin quite early, so he heads home after a festive but early evening.
The next morning, Jacinto goes to Leroy Jolley’s barn to get on a horse to gallop and Mr. Jolley comes at him in the shed row; “Jacinto you’re off the horse, (General Assembly) Mr. Firestone told me to find another rider, sorry but you're off the horse.”
Jacinto says with amazement, but still respect for the Hall of Fame trainer, “Mr. Jolley what are you talking about? Why are you taking me off the horse? I’m riding him so good, he worked good for me, nobody knows the horse like I do!”
Mr. Jolley, quite hot under the collar retorts, “Jacinto, you told Carl Lizza what your riding strategy is going to be and it got back to Mr. Firestone. He was livid that his rider is giving away our plan to win the race!”
Jacinto goes, “What? Are you kidding me? You’d think I tell another owner what I am going to do in a Grade 1 race? You think I’m going to give away the plan? No, Mr Jolley I’m just setting him up that’s all, but if you want to get another rider go ahead! No one can ride this horse like me and we both know it.”
Mr. Jolley grinned and said, “Ok I’ll tell Mr. Firestone but what were you thinking anyway. That’s crazy to tell a story like that!”
“What was I thinking?” Jacinto replied, “I was thinking that I’m crazy like a fox!”
And the rest is history, General Assembly went right to the lead and drew off in the slop to win by 15 lengths and set a new track record of 2:00 flat that still stands today. Just goes to show you that a good Jock never needs instructions and a great Jock can set things up without you even knowing!