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John H. Adams

John “Johnny” H. Adams was born September 1, 1914, in Carlisle, Arkansas, but grew up in Iola, Kansas. Adams was later given the nickname “Iola Mite” based on his childhood hometown. He attended Union School in Allen County, Kansas. Adams won his first horserace in Uniontown, Kansas, at the age of 15 despite his parents’ protests. Most jockeys go through an apprentice stage before they become official jockeys, but Adams never acquired an apprentice license and began his career in 1934 as an official jockey.

Adams won his first major race at the age of 20 in 1934 in Kansas City, Missouri. Two of Adams' most notable wins were in 1939 in the Santa Anita Handicap on Kayak II and then in 1954 he won the Preakness Stakes on Hasty Road, and finished second in the Kentucky Derby.

Adams retired in 1958 after a 24-year racing career with more than 3,200 first-place and 2,700 second-place finishes. After retirement Adams took up training thoroughbreds. Adams' first win as a trainer came from his son John R. Adams. Johnny Adams was a three-time United States Champion jockey, was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1961, and the National Racing Hall of Fame in 1965. Adams also received the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1956, a prestigious racing honor given to riders with esteemed Thoroughbred racing careers and personal character. Adams died August 18, 1995 in Arcadia, California.

Entry: Adams, John H.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: May 2012

Date Modified: February 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.