Braulio Baeza
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Baeza and Bucpasser after winning the '66 Brooklyn Handicap

1966 BuckpasserClick here to view photos

WP*: What do you remember about Buckkpasser as a mount?
BB: You had to be alert on him at all times or he’d dump you. He’d prop and wheel.
WP: Did he go running off, bucking?
BB: Not really. He’d just jog around a little bit. He didn’t go anywhere.
WP: So why do you think he did it?
BB: He was a little on the playful side. He was the type of horse that as soon as he got to the lead, he’d pull himself up.
WP: He figured he’d won the race and that’s it, huh?
BB: Yep.
WP: You got on him in the mornings a few times. How did you work him in the mornings?
BB: He had to have a horse to run at in the works. He was a lousy worker.
WP: You mean he didn’t try too hard if he worked by himself?
BB: Yes. He loved the competition. We used to have relays of horses to pick him at the different poles, otherwise he’d just work average. And we had to get a work into him. He didn’t run every other week, like some horses. He only ran in stakes every month or so. By himself, he just galloped along. He resented being hit with the whip. He was on the temperamental side. One time I hit him with the whip and he took a left turn. A couple times he didn’t want to draw away and so I hit him. He ducked in from the whip. It was a good thing I was clear of the other horse. At first, he’d give me a good run and draw away by about two lengths, then he’d put the brakes on and his ears would go up.
WP: So how did you get him to win so many times?
BB: I had to time my move properly. So that when I went to the lead, the wire was right there.
WP: What happened to precipitate the scratch of Buckpasser at Rockingham Park in the New Hampshire Derby in ‘67?
BB: I went up to Rockingham to work Buckpasser before the race and he didn’t want to work. I had to make him do it. His quarter crack was bothering him. He was refusing to work. This was before they had patches and those other things to help the horses.
WP: What happened when you got back to the barn?
BB: Mr. Neloy asked me how he worked and I said, “No good.” Then he said what happened and I said something is bothering him and he worked terrible.
WP: Then what did he say?
BB: That was Wednesday or Thursday before the race. He told me Buckpasser would be 1-10 in the race and asked me if I would ride him. I said no. If he ran him, I didn’t want to ride him because he was not going to win.
WP: Then what did Mr. Neloy say to that?
BB: Okay. We’re not running. Then he called the press and told them that I scratched the horse. So the press all came down on me. The people who owned the track were very upset with me. But I didn’t want to be responsible for the horse getting beat. He wasn’t going to win and I didn’t want to be on him. I didn’t think he could win in the condition he was in.
WP: What was his next race after that?
BB: Maybe a month or six weeks later. Whatever it was, he won it.
WP: What lead up to his retirement?
BB: The next to last race, he struggled to win it. He really put his heart out to win that race. He struggled to win it. He won it on his heart alone. He had the heart of a champion. His last race he didn’t win. He couldn’t do it. He wasn’t putting out. The quarter crack was bothering him too much. And almost every time he ran, he’d have to carry high weight.
WP: Thank you.
If you have any questions you’d like answered about Buckpasser, or any other horse Mr. Baeza used to ride, send an e-mail to:
*WP stands for Web Page

Buckpasser win photo
Baeza and 2 year old Buckpasser
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