The world of horse racing is full of weird tales, but the following incident in the career of Ralph Neves, known as "the Portuguese Pepperpot," may top them all. The following account comes from the "Centralia Daily Chronicle" of May 9, 1936:
Resurrected from the dead, jockey Ralph Neves was listed to ride five horses at the Bay Meadows track today.
The aggressive 19-year-old kid, looking very much alive, insisted he never was dead. A doctor said he was.
The "fatality" occurred in the third race yesterday when Pannikins, with Neves in the middle, ran up on the heels of the horses in front, and went to her knees, catapulting Neves onto the track.
A half dozen horses raced by. Neves lay motionless on the track.
The track physician examined the jockey, found no sign of life and concluded he was dead. Neves was carried to the track hospital.
It seemed like a hopeless gesture, but as a matter of course, the physician gave him an injection of adrenalin.
Within 20 minutes Neves was sitting up, demanding to be allowed to ride the rest of his mounts for the afternoon.
Neves yielded to the insistence of others, but insisted that he would return today to the track where he "died."
The track physician told the Associated Press, "Whether Neves was dead depends on what you call death." Some accounts claim that Neves only "came back from the dead" when he was in the mortuary, toe-tag and all.
Neves did indeed ride all five races the next day. Bing Crosby would be presenting a gold watch and $500 to the jockey who won the most races during the meet, and Neves was determined to win that prize. He did, too.
Racing's Lazarus went on to have a long and successful career. By the time he retired in 1964, he had won over 3700 races and was elected to the National Racing Hall of Fame. He passed away--for good this time--in 1995 at the age of 79. Presumably, they checked Neves over very well before the funeral.
As Neves himself said in 1954, "Don't let them bury you until you're sure you are dead."