Remembering Newark's Only Jockey: Known as "Buddy"

by Nat Bodian


Newark has had its share of great athletes in virtually every sport, but, insofar as I know, it boasted only one jockey -- know to sports writers of his era as "Buddy".

The jockey, born and reared in Newark, reached his full height of five feet two inches in his pre-teen years and was slight of build.

Because of his size and build friends convinced him that he should become a jockey and he decided to go for it. He broke into the jockey business at Blue Grass Farms in 1912 under the management of John Maddon. He was 15 years old at the time.

He made his track debut that year at the Pimlico track in Baltimore and finished eighth in a field of eight. But he persisted and he went on to compete at all the major tracks in the United States. He also competed in Canada and in Cuba.

Two major happenings highlighted his five-year career as a jockey before entering World War I.

In 1914, in Havana, Cuba, he was in a race involving a spill that ended in disaster. One of five riders involved, a jockey named Rice (first name unknown) was killed.

"Buddy as he was known by the sports writers of the day, was knocked unconscious for 72 hours and suffered a skull fracture.

Two of the other three riders in the spill, also injured, were Roscoe Troxler, who was a winner of the 1913 Belmont Stakes, the oldest horse event in America (dating back to 1867), and Frank Robinson, who would recover and win the Belmont Stakes four years later. The other injured jockey was Larry Lyke.

The second major happening in Buddy's career as a jockey was his participation in the 1916 running of the Kentucky Derby, a highly celebrated event inaugurated at Churchill Downs in Louisville in 1875. He finished fifth on a horse named Good-Bye.

Although Buddy never finished in the big money as a jockey, he competed at all the major tracks including Havre De Gras and Empire.

The Newark jockey's career ended with his entry into the Army in World War I, but it did not end his association with horses. He served in the Army as a Cavalry instructor.

Identity Revealed

The Newark jockey that the newspapers called "Buddy" was none other than Victor J. "Buddy" Brown who would later help make Newark a boxing mecca for the famous and not-so-famous by sponsoring boxing matches at Newark's Dreamland Park, which he owned.

In 1941, he built, owned and managed the New Dreamland Arena Skating Rink at 900 Frelinghuysen Avenue at Virginia Street at the Newark-Elizabeth city line.

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I first met Vic Brown in the late 1930s while a sports writer for the Newark Star-Ledger. I became a patron at his roller rink in Union and later at the Dreamland Arena. I also became his friend and we corresponded during my military service in World War II.

He had never mentioned his life as a jockey to me and I had no knowledge of it since it had all happened before I was born. However, I was able to re-assemble the above chapter of his life as a jockey by going through the brown-with-age crumbling newspaper clippings that were left when he died in 1968.

They are now in the possession of his widowed daughter-in-law, Lois Brown, who was married to his son Vic, Jr. Now resident in Minnesota, she loaned them to me. Son Vic Jr. was a hero on World War II, winning three purple hearts.

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