David ‘The General’ Gall, 79, Fifth All-Time Leading North American Rider, Passes

David A. Gall, the fifth all-time leading North American rider by wins and a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Sports Hall of fame, died on Sunday at the age of 79.

Based for almost the entirety of his 43-year career at two southern Illinois tracks, defunct Cahokia Downs in Alorton  and Fairmount Park (now FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing) in Collinsville, Ill., Gall rode 7,396 winners from 41,775 career mounts, according to Equibase. Known as “The General,” Gall twice was leading rider in North America by wins – with 479 in 1979 and 376 in 1981 – and led the Fairmount Park standings on at least 14 occasions.

At the time of his retirement in September 1999, only three riders – National Museum of Racing Hall of Famers Bill Shoemaker, Laffit Pincay Jr., and Pat Day – had won more races. Gall was never given serious consideration for Hall of Fame status in the U.S. because of where he rode. He is the 1996 recipient of Canada’s Avelino Gomez Award, three years after his induction into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

A native of Rose Valley, Saskatchewan, Canada, Gall began riding at age 15 in western Canada and ventured to Bay Meadows and Tanforan in Northern California. According to Bill Christine in the Los Angeles Times, Gall drove east in 1959 in an old jalopy given to him by a Northern California stablehand who owed him money, not sure where he’d end up. The car broke down in Arizona and he called his grandmother in Canada to tell her of his plight. She wired Gall enough money to buy a bus ticket to St. Louis, and that’s where he wound up settling down, just across the Mississippi River in southern Illinois.

“He liked night racing, which is why I think he stayed there” said Mark Cooper, who was Gall’s agent from the mid-1980s until his retirement.

“They raced at night,” Gall told Dan Farley of the Racing Post when he retired in 1999. “I thought that was great because I never liked to get up in the morning. I decided to stay for a while, then move on, but I got to meet people and started knowing people. Pretty soon, it was home.”

“He was one of a kind,” said Cooper. “He had hands like you couldn’t believe, and hardly ever hit a horse. You’d see him out there with his reins dangling and he won so many racing coming down the fence. He competed against guys like Shane Sellers and Mark Guidry when they were getting started. A lot of riders learned from him.”

Gall once won eight races on a 10-race card at Cahokia Downs and rode seven winners at least three different times.

Gall resisted the temptation to ride the bigger circuits where he might have gotten more press and had the opportunity to ride in major races. His only graded stakes victory, according to Equibase, came in the 1993 Fairmount Derby, then a Grade 3 event, aboard Adhocracy for Kentucky-based trainer Niall O’Callaghan.

“In my mid-30s, I realized I wasn’t going to make it big,” he is quoted as saying in his Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame biography. “I never joined the rat race because I don’t like rat races. I like horse races.”

Gall suffered a number of injuries during his career, but a 1997 spill at Hawthorne near Chicago was one of the worst, breaking six ribs, his back and jaw.

Following his retirement from riding, Gall trained at Fairmount Park for 13 years, winning 157 races from 1,523 starts. His last starter came in 2011.

Gall’s wife, Mary, passed away about one year ago, Cooper said, and he is survived by a son and two daughters.

Funeral arrangements are not known at this time.

The post David ‘The General’ Gall, 79, Fifth All-Time Leading North American Rider, Passes appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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