james w. "jimmy" jordan
Jimmy Jordan was born on March 2, 1905 in Pittsfield, Illinois, where his father raised quarter horses which Jimmy raced at local county fairs. His love of horses eventually brought him to driving Standardbreds. When one of his favorite horses, Frank DeForest, was sold to a Maine sportsman in May 1923, Jordan accompanied the horse to Norway, Maine. He worked as Frank DeForest’s groom, eventually getting the mount and finishing second at a race in Waterville at the age of 19.
Jordan made Lewiston, Maine his home before being recruited by newly-established Roosevelt Raceway. Jordan was one of the first drivers to relocate and stable at the Westbury oval in 1940 at the beginning of night harness racing in New York. He took a hiatus from his racing career to serve in Patton’s 3rd Army as a tank driver during World War II.
Jimmy Jordan was one of the sport’s popular drivers in the late 1940s and 1950s and enjoyed national ranking in almost every driving category at one time or another during his career. At Roosevelt in 1941, driving Sunny Boy, Jordan set a 1 1/4-mile world trotting record for a half-mile track (2:40 1/4). In 1952 Jordan was the second-leading moneywinning driver behind Billy Haughton, and in 1953 he set a 1 1/16-mile world pacing record for a half-mile track (2:07 4/5) driving Meadow Rice at Westbury. Jordan’s greatest triumph came in 1958 when he won the $108,565 Messenger Stakes at Roosevelt driving O’Brien Hanover. Other major career victories included the 1948 Abbedale Stake (Olivette Hanover) and Village Farm Stake (Olivette Hanover); 1950 Abbedale (Reeves Lybrook); 1952 Adios (Adio Abe), Geers Stake (Adio Abe), Good Time Pace (Direct Rhythm) and Gotham Trot (Chris Spencer); 1960 Hanover-Hempt (Miss Sarah Rodney) and Proximity (Meadow Farr); and the 1961 Orange County Cup (Star Gem).
Jimmy Jordan was an original member of the USTA’s 1,000-race winners club, and by the end of the 1960s he was one of only 27 drivers to have won more than $3 million. His career spanned over fifty years with 1,333 victories and purse earnings of over $3.17 million, as recorded by the USTA beginning in 1939. Jordan’s last drive was on July 16, 1975 at Yonkers Raceway. He died in July 1977 at the age of 72.