Jimmy Picou, a former jockey and trainer, died Friday at age 85. Picou first rode in the 1940’s and retired at the end of 2004 after training thoroughbreds for 45 years.
Picou had a big year in Saratoga in 1981, highlighted when he beat Derby-winner and eventual 3-year-old champion, Pleasant Colony, and Belmont Stakes winner, Summing, with Willow Hour in the Travers Stakes.
James Earl Picou, a native of Beaumont, Texas, was born on January 6, 1934 and won his first race aboard Miss Maggy at Belmont in autumn of 1949. He won approximately 200 races as a jockey.
In 1954, Picou retired from the saddle and became an assistant for trainer Walter Kelley. Picou started his own stable in 1960 and won his first race as a trainer at Aqueduct that year. He trained 422 winners with career earnings over $15 million.
Fred Hooper and Joseph Roebling were among his most famous owners and, aside from Willow Hour, his most famous horse was Val’s Prince, a classy gelding who won the Turf Classic Invitational in 1997 and 1999, and Hong Kong International Cup at Sha Tin in 1997. Val’s Prince was the first U.S.-based winner of the Hong Kong International.