Two Races With Braulio
Baeza is a Student of Form When It Comes to His Mounts
by Frank Eck
AP Newsfeatures Sports Editor
June 27, 1967
Greek philosopher Zeno of Citium believed in repression of emotion when it came to pleasure or pain. He founded the Stoic school and now, when racetrack people say Braulio Baeza sits stoical on a horse in the post parade and resembles a Greek warrior or an Oriental spear carrier on horseback, they know only half the story.
Though his expression often borders on sadness, Baeza is more than the best jockey of the last two years. He is one of the great riders of our time because his horses won a near record $2.9 million last year. A warm human being with class and compassion for others is another noteworthy Baeza trait.
You had to be with Braulio Baeza in the jockey room at New York's Aqueduct racetrack. He was idle for two races. He could have played cards, answered his mail, read the papers, but he said:
"Sure, I have a minute. Please sit down."
The minute lasted a half hour.
Braulio had just ridden the winner of the second race at Aqueduct to bring some needy horseplayers among the 52,120 Saturday funseekers $529 for a $2 daily double.
After sponging himself off he picked up the portion of the Morning Telegraph which showed he would ride in the last five races. Each of his mounts, including Kentucky Derby winner Proud Clarion and a $3,500 claimer, were boxed heavily in pencil. He was about to go over each mount, as he had the night before with his hustling agent, Lenny Goodman.
"Look at this one," he said with a trace of bitterness as he pointed to Metairie Padre whose last effort was an 11-length beating seven months ago. "I don't see how he possibly can win this fifth race.
"I'll just have to get him out of the gate with the front runners and do the best I can." Baeza did his best with the 16-1 shot and finished fourth.
I have a good shot with Royal Comedian in the sixth," Baeza continued. A check showed Baeza had been either first or second with the son of Tom Fool in his last four races. This time, in his first grass effort, Royal Canadian ran second.
"Poker has a shot in the seventh," offered Baeza.
You'd never know it by his form, nine straight losses on the year and a router returning to a six furlong sprint. But Eddie Neloy, whose horses won a record $2.5 million in 1966, thanks to many fine Baeza rides, trains Poker and the Ogden Phipps colt had put in some fine workouts for three straight weeks.
Poker broke well but decided to gallop in the backstretch. Maybe he knew he was 20-1 and that stablemate Buckpasser was back in the barn. But Poker ran well in the homestretch to finish fourth.
Poker, incidentally, is a 4-year-old son of Round Table, and Baeza never had had much chance to ride him for two reasons. One, last year Poker was the rabbit who set a fast pace for Buckpasser, the greatest horse Baeza ever rode.
A week later Poker won a mile race with Baeza. The time was 1:34.1, only three ticks of the watch off the track record. He paid $16.60.
A week later, on June 17, Poker, Assagai, and Buckpasser, the latter running on turf for the first time in preparation for the $220,000 Grand Prix de Saint Cloud in Paris, ran in the Bowling Green at Aqueduct. They finished that way.
Bill Boland had Poker, Larry Adams rode Assagai, a fine turf runner, and Baeza had Bucky, which is the nickname Braulio uses for the Wheatley Stable colt. Bucky didn't take to grass and this is why he didn't get to France and Assagai, owned by Charles W. Engelhard of Far Hills, NJ, did.When the switch came, Baeza was booked immediately to ride Assagai.
When Poker and Buckpasser ran as an entry for the Phipps family, trainer Neloy always boosted "my poker faced money maker" onto Bucky. Secondly, while Poker was among the also-rans at Santa Anita last winter, Baeza was having a pin placed in the right collarbone he broke in a Hialeah fall.
On June 3, when Lou DeFichy, who is built like a jockey and writes for the New York Racing Association, wandered by, he gently lowered Baeza's T-shirt to show a somewhat ugly protuberance left by the collarbone surgery, and asked:
"When are you going to have the pin removed? When you go to the hospital let us know and we'll put out a story."
I won't tell you," Baeza replied, his brown eyes flashing.
"There's not going to be any hospital and no story, and furthermore, you are nosy," Baeza added as he took his T-shirt and covered the scar much in the manner of a shocked maiden holding up a broken shoulder strap.
DeFichy must have felt as most feel when they try to talk to irascible rider William Hartack. Little Louie lit out, but as reached the exit door of the jockeys' quarters, Baeza yelled:
"Hey, Lou, come back! About the pin. I feel good and I'm riding good. It would be bad for my business to take off now and have the pin removed. The pin stays. If it interferes with my winning then it comes out. But there will be no days off. Thanks for thinking of the pin."
DeFichy seemed to be walking on air as he left.
Tomorrow: Why Baeza told John Galbreath to run Proud Clarion in the Derby.
Baeza Told Galbreath To Run 30-1 Shot in the Derby
by Frank Eck
AP Newsfeature Sports Editor
June 28, 1967
The clock in the jockey's quarters at New York's Aqueduct race track had the little hand on 2 and the big hand on 3. It was more than three hours before the Belmont Stakes, the last jewel in turf's triple crown, and a race Braulio Baeza had won with Chateaugay in 1963.
Who you like in the big one?" Baeza asked with a smile as he turned the meat part of The Morning Telegraph to the 1 1/2 mile race worth $148,700.
"Proud Clarion or Cool Reception," we replied. "Can't like Damascus, not at odds on. I only bet $2."
"You know," said the 27-year-old rider from Panama, detouring the conversation, "I never wanted to sign the contract, but Mr. and Mrs. Galbreath have been good to me."
It must be stated here that John W. Galbreath not only owns most of the Pittsburgh Pirates but all of Darby Dan Farm. He once helped Baeza get up $100,000 so the consistent jockey could pay that amount to Fred W. Hooper, who held Baeza's first contract. But because Baeza had been so successful with horses Eddie Neloy trains for the Phipps family--Mrs. Hattie Carnegie Phipps, her son Ogden and his son Dinny--Baeza wanted to ride free lance.
He told Galbreath that when the contract expired on April 30, he did not wish to renew it, but that he would ride for Darby Dan when he could.
On April 27, after Baeza had finished second with Proud Clarion in Keeneland's Blue Grass Stakes, a phone conversation in Kentucky went something like this:
Mr. Galbreath," Baeza told his boss, "you should run Proud Clarion in the Kentucky Derby (on May 6). He was just a little bit short today. He is much improved since I last rode him in February when he won his first victory by eight lengths at Hialeah."
"Then I'll run him," Galbreath said, "and I want you to ride him."
"But I can't ride him," Baeza replied. "Our contract ends April 30 and I have a call (an agreement) to ride Successor for Eddie Neloy."
"Maybe Successor won't run in the Derby," Galbreath said. "We'll wait and see."
But Neloy, a few days before the Derby, said:
"As long as Successor is in Kentucky, we might as well run him in the Derby."
Two days before the Derby, when Galbreath was sure he couldn't get the rider most in demand for today's big stakes, he picked Bobby Ussery as his jockey. The rest is history. Ussery and Proud Clarion won at 30-1. Baeza and Successor, the 2-year-old champion of 1966 but not too much horse now, ran sixth.
Baeza could easily have taken himself off Successor. The Phipps' and Neloy would have approved the switch. But Baeza is the kind of fellow who honors a handshake. He earned more than $200,000 with Neloy horses last year and like a true trooper, he takes the bad horses and good horses.
So it came to the June 3 Belmont, and Baeza knew Damascus had proven himself by winning the Preakness under Willie Shoemaker. But Galbreath persisted. He told Bobby Ussery the rider would benefit in the long run if Ussery bowed off his horse, that he wanted Baeza on Proud Clarion.
But Damascus won it with Cool Reception second, Gentleman James third and Baeza, aboard Proud Clarion, fourth.
"I am not disappointed," Baeza said after the race, "because Mr. Galbreath is again my contract employer. He will let me ride Buckpasser anytime I want."
"And," said Eddie Neloy the other day, "Baeza can ride any horse I train. Buckpasser will definitely be retired to stud after this year but we've got a few others (about 35) and I hope Braulio will be available."
A dog is a man's best friend. With a trainer it's the horse and the jockey, and a rider like Braulio Baeza is a rare find indeed.
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