Akifumi Kato’s amazing record of posting at least one win each year for 50 consecutive years was such a unique achievement it earned the journeyman Jockey of the Week honors for January 4 through January 10. The award, which is voted on by a panel of racing experts, is for jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 active riders in the United States as well as retired and permanently disabled jockeys.
Currently riding at Turf Paradise, the unique milestone was celebrated on January 8th when Kato won the 5th race aboard She’s A Lady Griz which was also his 69th birthday. The win was made even more special as the winner is trained by Kato’s daughter, Kaylyn Kato.
Kato was born in Japan to a jockey turned trainer. After winning his first race in the United States at Ferndale Fair in northern California, Kato rode primarily at Playfair in Spokane, Washington where he was the all-time leader with 1,104 victories including two riding titles and four victories in the Playfair Mile. He is also the only active jockey to post victories at Washington’s other racetracks, Longacres, Yakima Meadows and Emerald Downs in addition to Playfair. He also rode at Portland Meadows.
A member of the Jockeys’ Guild for 49 years, Kato’s career stats to date include 19,983 mounts with 2,034 wins and $6,360,226 in purse earnings.
Kato out-polled fellow riders Kendrick Carmouche who won a stakes races at Aqueduct, Manny Franco with a stakes victory at Aqueduct, Umberto Rispoli who won the Grade III La Canada at Santa Anita and Drayden Van Dyke who won the Grade III Kalookan Queen at Santa Anita.