"Pure artistry," the trainer called it.
And it was a term often applied to jockey Bill Shoemaker in the 1960s.
In this case, it was the 1962 San Juan Capistrano Handicap, after "Shoe" (he also answered to "Willie" in those days) guided Olden Times through a difficult mile-and-three-quarter marathon, holding off fast-closing longshot Juanro in the stretch.
The victory, by a neck, capped a brilliant meeting for Shoemaker, who had ridden 65 winners to earn his 12th consecutive Santa Anita meeting title.
Afterward, Olden Times trainer Mesh Tenney raved about Shoemaker's ride.
"It was pure artistry," he said.
"He knows I think he's the greatest rider of all time, so I don't mention things like that to him. But after that ride on Olden Times, I just had to congratulate him.
"We thought if the horse was held back just a bit early, he'd win the race, and Shoe did it beautifully."
Wrote The Times' racing writer Bob Hebert that day: "During his phenomenal career, Shoemaker has staged many great rides, but none ever topped his masterful handling of Olden Times."
Shoemaker maintained a slim lead throughout, guided his horse carefully over the rain-softened turf course, then gave Olden Times (who paid $7.80) just enough whip in the stretch to hold off the 24-1 horse, Juanro.
Shoemaker got a thundering ovation from most of the 59,032 on hand, one that continued well after the race had ended.
Also on this date: In 1963, Wilt Chamberlain scored 70 points against Syracuse. . . . In 1971, Boston's Phil Esposito tied Bobby Hull's single-season NHL record with his 58th goal. . . . In 1981, Dan Reeves was named coach of the Denver Broncos. . . . In 1960, Bill Hartack rode Amerigo to a photo-finish win over King O'Turf in Santa Anita's San Juan Capistrano Handicap. In 1956, Bobby Brocato went wire-to-wire to win the San Juan Capistrano.