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