|Birth: ||Sep. 19, 1909|
|Death: ||Dec. 26, 1969|
Former Vanderbilt Jockey, J.J. Bejshak, Is Dead at 60
Funeral services for John J. Bejshak, the saddle star of the 1930's who rode Alfred Vanderbilt's famed thoroughbred, Discovery, to numerous turf victories and a place in racing's hall of fame, will be held at the Thomas funeral establishment in Salisbury, PA, at 10 A.M. Tuesday.
Mr. Bejshak, who was 60, died Friday night at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, after a heart attack. He lived at 2240 Crest Road.
A native of Canada, Mr. Bejshak started his long career in horse racing in 1925 when he came to Maryland from Montreal with Cmdr. J.K.L. Ross, the owner of Sir Barton, first winner of the Derby-Preakness-Belmont triple crown in 1919.
Commander Ross's farm was located where Laurel race track now stands.
It wasn't long, though, before his contract was sold to Alfred G. Vanderbilt and Mr. Bejshak started racing his way to fame on June 1, 1927, when he led a filly called Plain Polly to the winner's circle at Belmont Park.
The most memorable part of his career began in 1934 when he saddled Mr. Vanderbilt's Discovery and rode the famous horse to victory in the Brooklyn Handicap at Aqueduct and broke the track record in the Arlington Handicap the same year.
In 1935, Discovery led the field again in the Brooklyn handicap.
It was a year before Mr. Bejshak was to retire. The jockey who weighed 79 pounds when he started riding, then weighed 138 pounds.
"I think Discovery was the greatest weight carrier that ever lived." Mr. Bejshak recalled much later. "In 1935 he won the Merchants and Citizens handicap at Saratoga under 139 pounds."
Last summer, the former jockey stood proudly next to Mr. Vanderbilt in Saratoga while Discovery was awarded a place in the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame.
The same day, Mr. Bejshak donated the saddle, in which he rode the horse to so many victories, to the museum.
Mr. Bejshak had actually hung up that saddle in 1936, when he bought two thoroughbreds from Mr. Vanderbilt and became a trainer.
World War II brought a break in Mr. Bejshak's racing career as tracks throughout the country closed. During the war years he worked as a welder for Bethlehem Steel.
After the war, Mr. Bejshak was appointed custodian of the jockey quarters at Laurel where his duties included keeping track of more than 60 sets of silken colors for riders and their farms. He remained in that position to the time of his death.
"I've got to keep the boys in order," the former jockey said several years ago, explaining his duties. "I have to see they get out to the paddock on time and make sure the proper silks are available."
Although Mr. Bejshak most enjoyed his work with the jockeys, he also served as a patrol judge, clerk of scales and placing judge.
In 1932 the jockey married Katherine Stotler, whose father, Joseph H. Stotler, was the Vanderbilt trainer.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Bejshak is survived by two sons, John J. Bejshak, Jr. of north Hollywood, Calif., and David A. Bejshak, of the home address; a daughter, Mrs. Paul L. Lund, of Baltimore; a brother, Albert Bejshak, of Montreal, and two grandchildren.
The Sun, Baltimore, Sunday Morning, December 28, 1969
Katherine Evelyn Stotler Bejshak (1912 - 1997)*
John Joseph Bejshak (1936 - 2013)*
Salisbury IOOF Cemetery
Created by: Kathie Lund
Record added: Oct 06, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 42780139