McCarron began riding as a professional in 1974 and won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey that year. In 1980, he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey and the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.
McCarron won nine Breeders’ Cup races, including five runnings of the Classic. He won the Kentucky Derby in 1987 on Alysheba and on Go for Gin in 1994. He won the Preakness Stakes in 1987 on Alysheba and in 1992 on Pine Bluff. He won the Belmont Stakes in 1987 on Danzig Connection and in 1997 on Touch Gold.
Other major wins for McCarron include the Del Mar Oaks (4), Del Mar Futurity (4), Del Mar Handicap (6), Florida Derby, Jockey Club Gold Cup (2), Arlington Million, Fantasy Stakes (4), Hollywood Gold Cup, Woodward Stakes (2), Santa Anita Handicap (3), Haskell Invitational (2), Santa Anita Derby (4), San Diego Handicap (6), Pacific Classic, Canadian International and Japan Cup.
McCarron rode many of the best horses of his era, including John Henry, Alysheba, Precisionist, Lady’s Secret, Sunday Silence, Paseana, Tiznow, Touch Gold, Go for Gin and Alphabet Soup.
McCarron led all North American jockeys in earnings in 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1991. He also topped the leaderboard in wins in 1974, 1975 and 1980.
McCarron retired in 2002 with 7,141 wins and purse earnings of $263, 985,905. He served as technical advisor, racing designer and had an acting role in the 2003 film “Seabiscuit.” He currently instructs aspiring jockeys at the North American Racing Academy, which he founded to help hone the skills of young riders.
Chris McCarron was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1989.