Origins: The following news story dates from May 1936:
Suddenly Fannikins was down. The crowd gasped as Jockey Ralph Neves hit the track and lay still.
The other horses swept on as track attendants rushed to lift Neves, known as one of the toughest and most courageous riders at Bay Meadows.
There was no sign of life in the jockey, and
In what seemed a hopeless gesture,
Twenty minutes later, in what appeared to be a miraculous recovery, Neves was sitting up and demanding that he be allowed to ride the rest of his races.
Neves, former South San Francisco caddy, is under lease to
When Fannikins fell, she landed on Neves, causing the jockey's temporary death. (The horse was unharmed.) Not only was Neves declared dead at the track, but
Track patrons who had bowed their heads in prayer as the body of this 19-year-old man had been removed from the track were thus shocked by the sight of the half-dressed newly deceased running past the grandstand toward the jockeys' room. Shock turned to celebration. According to Neves, "At one point, I think everyone on the damn track was chasing me."
Neves was back in the saddle the next day to compete for a watch being awarded to the top jockey in the Bay Meadows meet. Though he didn't win any of his races on that day, the last of the meet, he did rack up enough second place finishes to capture the title and the watch.
Neves went on to ride for 28 more years after being declared dead that day in 1936.
Barbara "dead run" Mikkelson
Last updated: 19 April 2009
Los Angeles Times. "Rider Who Came Back to Life Feels 'Great.'" 10 May 1936 (p. A10). San Francisco Chronicle. "Pronounced Dead After Bay Meadows Spill, Jockey Revives." 9 May 1936 (p. A1). Library of Curious and Unusual Facts: Shadows of Death. Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1992. ISBN 0-8094-7719-X (p. 98).