The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Earl Sande - Inducted 1984

Born Nov. 13, 1898, in Groton, where he lived until age 9, when his family moved to Idaho.

A Hall of Fame jockey, Sande was the nation’s leading rider in 1921, ‘23 and ‘27 and he rode such greats as Man o’ War, Sir Barton, Zev and Gallant Fox. He was immortalized in verse by Damon Runyan (“Maybe I’ll lay against it a million bucks to a fin, Never a handy guy like Sande, Booting them babies in.’’).

Sande began his riding career at local fairs in the West. In 1917 he began riding thoroughbreds in New Orleans. He came out of retirement in 1930 and rode Gallant Fox to the Triple Crown. Gallant Fox won nine of 10 races that year.

Sande, tall for a jockey at 5-foot-6, is one of a select few who have won the Kentucky Derby more than once. Besides with Gallant Fox, he won with Zev in 1923 and Flying Ebony in ’25. He won the Belmont Stakes four other times (with Grey Lag in ‘21, Zev in ‘23, Mad Play in ‘24, Chance Shot in ‘27). He also won the Jockey Club Gold Cup, another big race of the day, five times.

In 1923 he won 39 stakes, including 10 on Zev, including the Derby, Belmont and a match race with English Derby winner Papyrus. Sande had 3,673 mounts and won 968 races (26.4 percent), which earned a staggering sum (at that time) of $3 million in purses. 

He suffered a serious spill in August of 1924 at Saratoga, New York, that left him with a double fracture of the thigh, eight broken ribs and a broken collarbone. He returned to win the 1925 Kentucky Derby aboard Flying Ebony.

After his retirement from racing in 1932, he took up training and was America’s leading trainer in 1938. He was in the inaugural class of inductees into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1955.

One of Sande’s friends as a kid in Groton was Leon Cassels. “My dad (Leon) and Earl would go out there to my grandfather Herb’s farm and ride horses,” Gene Cassels told the Aberdeen American News in 2008. “Earl said that is where he learned about horses and got his start. Earl said he was always grateful for those  experiences and the times he spent with my dad.”

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