by Bob Gates
When Sir Winston Churchill said that "there's something about the outside of a horse that's good for the inside of a man" it was like he knew Jimmy Anderson.
James E. Anderson was the son of track veterinarian Dr. Norm and Mrs. Peggy Anderson. Jim and brother Laurie came from a racing family and were raised on Pinehurst Farm in Oakbank. Father Norm bred, raised and owned racehorses, brother Laurie trained them and Jimmy was the rider.
Laurie always said that from the time Jimmy was a little kid he could make horses do anything he wanted. Jim wanted to be a jockey his whole life and got started at 16 when he was still going to high school at Springfield Collegiate in 1963. His maiden and only win of 1963 came aboard the family-owned and Harry Howell-trained Mom's Bomb in July.
In 1964 Jimmy was the top apprentice at the Downs when he recorded 7 wins, 10 seconds and 13 third place finishes. July of that same year saw young Jim face his first of many challenges in the racing game. Father Norm and trainer Harry Howell elected to ride Darwyn Howell (no relation) on Mom's Bomb.
Jim was riled about losing his regular mount on the family horse, but was successful in getting another ride in the same race. Jim was determined to make a go of it on his mount Certain, despite the fact that his new horse was going postward at 60 to 1.
Jim lost the race to Murray Duncan's Precambrian by a half length, but he beat his father's horse by a neck. Certain paid $43.20 to place and 18.60 to show. Mission accomplished!
In 1967 the public relations department at Waterford Park described young Anderson as one of best prospects to come along since Bill Hartack rode at that same track. High praise indeed!
Jim's riding career spanned 30 years from 1963 to 1992 with 20 of those years spent at our west end oval. His last win at Assiniboia Downs was on October 14, 1992 aboard Got It Licked. Jim's last race at the Downs was October 19, 1992 on Tin Lizzie Tizzie.
Jim was at ease around horses. As a jock he said he knew there would be injuries, but never lost sleep over it. If you did, he said you were done. For Jim Anderson being a jockey was the best job in the world!
In June 1981 Jimmy rode his 725th winner at the Downs on Tilt Quiz. In doing so he became the Downs all-time leading jockey, passing Bobby Stewart's record of 724. Jim held that title despite never having won a single season riding title, until Ken Hendricks passed him later in the '80s .
Jim rode quality not quantity, consistently finishing high on the leader board year after year. Currently Jim is ranked 12th on the Downs all time leading jockey listing with 773 victories to his credit.
Lifetime Accomplishments: Jim won the Speers five times, the Winnipeg Futurity twice, the Gold Cup twice and the old Inaugural Handicap four times.
Notable Horses ridden by Jim: Island Fling, Major Enterprise, Macale, Taboga, Scarlet Rich, Lexico. Flag the Trayne and Balancing Dancer.
After hanging up his tack, Jim took to training thoroughbreds in Florida, racing the way he liked, with 3 or 4 horses. He was his own boss and he was doing what he loved. He galloped his horses until he was 60, then turned those chores over to the younger crowd. Jim was sound at the time and wanted to keep it that way.
Dwayne Addison, who has been Supervisor of the Jock's Room since biblical times, told me that his Dad, Bill who worked in the room for more than 20 years, was Jimmy's valet. Again, all positive comments about the man they called "Ange."
How you ever had the rug pulled out form under you? Ange did. During some spirited, but good natured horse-play in the jocks' room, bug boy Peter McAleney did just that. Catching Jimmy off guard, Peter yanked the rug that Jimmy was standing on, sending Ange soundly on his butt. Did it hurt? Sure did, but Jimmy bounced back up like nothing happened. He wasn't going to give the kid the pleasure of knowing he got the best of him - even though he did!
Jerry Pruitt had nothing but good things to say about Jimmy. Ken Hendricks said he was fun to ride with and one of the few you could talk to while riding along side him. Hank went on to say that he learned a lot from Jimmy. He was good guy who didn’t mind helping out the youngsters like him -- and boy has it been a while since anybody called Hank a youngster -- sorry Hank!
Last I heard, Jim trained until 2010. He's pushing 70 now and I presume retired. He was known as a quiet, solitary kind of guy who never liked to talk about his ex-wives or family. Quite content to be left alone. Nothing wrong with that.
Jim was quite fine with his nomadic life-style, moving from track to track with his small family of four-legged runners. His horses helped soothe his psyche and heal his soul…
They made him whole.
All the best Jim wherever you are, from your friends at the Downs!