Larry Harding Dies

The retired jockey loses his fight with cancer.

March 23, 2012

Larry Harding

Larry Harding

Retired American Quarter Horse jockey Larry Harding died Wednesday, March 21, at age 70 in Spokane, Washington, surrounded by loving family members after a five-year-long battle with cancer.

One of 11 siblings, Larry was raised in Chewelah, Washington, just south of his birthplace at Colville. His father was a farmer and his mother the sole operator of “Mom’s Café” in downtown Chewelah. Larry grew up with a love of horses and the desire to be a jockey. With natural ability as a child, he learned horsemanship on the backs of neighbor’s horses, and a later tour in the Army found him riding well enough to be responsible for teaching entire companies of men to ride and jump for the U.S. Pentathlon – he always considered himself to be the luckiest soldier in the Army!

His career of piloting some of Quarter Racing’s great athletes began in Arizona, riding for Robert Keickheifer, founder of the Weyerhaeuser Paper Company, and would lead to his winning more than 300 races from California to New York and Canada, from the finest facilities to the most rural of bush tracks for some of the industry’s top owners and trainers. He rode such memorable athletes as Devil Who, Figurine, Diamond Sun Joe and Miss Top Time. He also rode Appaloosa champions such as the remarkable Time Flies and Scooter Bug G for his good friend and champion trainer Louis Wartchow.

Larry retired from racing in 1986 after his final winning ride aboard a mount at his home track of Sun Downs in Kennewick, Washington, after riding exclusively in the Northwest for a few years for the likes of trainers like Joe Baze and Tork Toresdahl.

Married to equine artist Ginny Harding in 1977, Larry later retired from two decades as a construction worker with the Laborers Union at the Hanford Nuclear Plant in Eastern Washington and was working for Del Sol, Inc. , a U.S. Parks Service contractor when he took ill.

Larry is survived by sons Shane, Cash, Jeremiah and Trapper, and six grandchildren. He is also survived by four of his five brothers, all five of his sisters and 21 nieces and nephews. A memorial service in celebration of his life will be held in July at Blue Creek, Washington.