The King in the Sport of Kings
by Karen Kotowski
Gothic Times, Nov. 6, 1970
Hello racing fans and welcome back. In the last issue, I promised you a full portrayal of the top jockey of all time. Those of you expecting an article on Eddie Arcaro will be disappointed. Arcaro on his best was only a little over 3/4 as good as Braulio Baeza.
In order to say that Braulio is top jockey, I must first list the characteristics mandatory for greatness. They are: a strong physical constitution, intense dedication, sharp reflexes, unquestionable courage, emotional stability, alertness, competitive spirit and a sensitivity to the varying needs and capacities of the thoroughbred horse.
Baeza, who keeps his 112 pounds in superb condition, has all of the necessary qualities and the mental control to use them. His objective calmness has won him many a race where a more emotional jockey would falter. Tom Ainslie informs us that it takes Baeza no more than a twentieth of a second to make a decision. This jockey's courage is legendary as can be seen by his winning of the Roseben Handicap of Aqueduct on May 18, 1966. He was trapped in a pocket behind Rotz's Beaupy and Ycaza's Hoist Bar. When Beaupy drifted out slightly, Baeza steered his Bold Lad through the opening. In getting through without bumping anyone, he showed a remarkable display of reinsmanship that very few riders would have had the guts to attempt. Competitive spirit? In the 1961 Belmont, he was assigned the 65-1 rated Sherluck--a horse that Arcaro himself refused! Did the Master's decision upset him? Apparently not, for he went on to win by 2 1/2 lengths to register a then record payoff of $132.10. In the same year, he won three stake races on this colt. In the intensity of his dedication, he pays no heed to injuries. Not too long ago, a restless filly tossed her head back and fractured Baeza's nose. He brought her under the wire to a head win and then won the following featured race by three lengths!
Another way to judge a jockey is by noting the comments made about him. Jim Higginbottom describes Baeza's riding style as "poetry in motion". Sports writer, Mel Heimer, considers him "an almost flawless jockey." Famed sports critic Tom Ainslie says, "Baeza . . . able to handle anything . . . most versatile rider . . . seems to get the best from every mount." Many trainers call Baeza the perfect rider.
This brilliant Panamanian easily tops any of today's rider. In comparison to Arcaro, it can be noted that 'the Master' lacked the sensitivity mandatory in coaxing willful horses to a better effort.And there is no record of Arcaro's riding while sustaining an injury of any kind! Of Baeza, it can only be said: "He was born to ride".
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