adams john  
  Adams, John (Johnny)

  • Charter Inductee KSHOF 1961
  • Three-time U. S. Champion jockey
  • Rode 3,270 winners
  • Inducted National Racing Hall of Fame
  • Won first race at age 15
  • One of first four to ride 3,000 winners
  • Nicknamed the "Iola Mite"
Adams, John (Johnny)
Inducted 1961

Born: September 1, 1914 - Carlisle, Arkansas

Died: August 19, 1995 - Arcadia, California

Attended: Union School in Allen County, Kansas


Johnny Adams was a three-time United States champion jockey (1937, 1942 and 1943) and only the fourth American jockey to reach 3,000 wins during his career. The "Iola Mite" (he moved to Iola, KS as a child) had the unique reputation of beginning his riding career without the benefit of an apprentice allowance.

Early Beginnings

Adams rode his first race at age 15 at the fairgrounds in Uniontown, Kansas in 1929. He won his first race in major competition at Riverside Park in Kansas City, Missouri in 1934 on "Marble Girl." In 1954, he rode "Hasty Road" to a win in the Preakness Stakes and a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

Career Highlights

Adams won the 1939 Santa Anita Handicap on "Kayak II" in what he later called his most memorable race. His twenty-four-year professional career ended in 1958 with a record of 3,270 wins, 2,704 seconds and 2,635 thirds in 20,159 mounts for purse winnings of nearly $10 million.

Post Racing Career

Following retirement, Adams spent many years as a public trainer on the Pacific coast. Johnny Adams was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 1965.