Athletic Skill, Concentration and Modesty

This photo shows Bobby flanked by other
Panamanian jockeys as they form a Jockey’s
Association. Photo provided by Dr. Bobby Reid.
This is the Jockey plaque exhibited at the
Hall of Fame opened in April of 2009.
Roberto E. “Bobby” Reid is included amongst
those honored.

It was no small feat for “Bobby” Reid to have become one of the “all-time” jockeys listed in Panama’s Horse Racing Hall of Fame. He was not just another jockey but, as in the grand tradition of his Silver ancestors, was a pioneer- a precursor- to the bevy of great jockeys that Panama has produced. We are delighted to connect with Bobby Reid and let him tell his story, as well as present certain facts that our “Bobby” has modestly out of his story. You can read his story here and here and get it directly as he related it.

I mentioned the quality of “modesty,” which is a moral value I myself have always struggled to acquire; perhaps it was a life time filled with rejection in our family but, no matter, I recognize it readily in others and I found this quality in the person of Doctor Reid. Despite his many achievements he has remained unassuming and casual and today he is still interested in becoming just another student in his retirement, getting re-involved and exploring some facets of the arts he has always admired and loved.

I recently had the opportunity to see some of his photography work and I came away very impressed with his outstanding work. Today, among other things, he is a published photographer, with prizes for his exhibits and has been as busy as when he was an active surgeon.

The following is intended for our readers who, like me, are not acquainted in the least with some of the ins and outs of life as a jockey at any racetrack in the world.

“Jockeys generally get their mounts in races when the horses are training each morning. A jockey employs an agent, who, working for a percentage of their rider’s winnings, tries to secure the best horse for them in each race. The tricky part for the agent comes when several trainers want their rider for the same race. Now the jockey’s agent is like any bettor, they are handicapping the horses and putting their rider on the most likely winner.”*

The above was something I did not know until I sought to understand the sport for this series of articles and to rate the athletic abilities and concentration needed for someone like Bobby Reid to have so rapidly ascended to fame in as little as five years and to have become one of the best jockeys of his time. It was a time when we kids of the poorer barrios of Panama City could only dream of approaching the race track, even as hangers-on during the weekend races.

The old Juan Franco Racetrack where Bobby Reid first got his start remained the stalwart image of horse racing throughout the history of Panama during our youth and would withstand the times of political turmoil that produced the name change to honor one of its most ardent fans, the venerable President José Antonio Remón Cantera. It was a terrible and tragic history that brought about its present name, The Remón Cantera Hippodrome, which, later in my adolescence, would leave a bitter memory as I followed my classmates into the “La Merced Cathedral” to offer a prayer for eternal peace for the soul of our beloved President Rémon while viewing his bodily remains for a last farewell.

They were tense times and it was way too difficult to maintain my “concentration” and equally difficult to fathom the fact that I was indeed viewing and participating in a wake for not only our President who was so savagely gunned down, but for the death of all opportunities for all of us Silver youths of the poor barrios of the Republic of Panama.

This story will continue.

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