New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Horse racing

Angel Cordero, Jr.

Angel Cordero, Jr. (Horse racing.  Born, Santurce, Puerto Rico, May 8, 1942.)  Beginning his career in 1962, Angel Cordero, Jr., became one of the winningest jockeys in history.  By 1990, his purse winnings had surpassed the $150 million mark aboard more than 6,700 winners.  He finished his career aboard 7,057 winners.  Cordero was the leading jockey at New York tracks seven times beginning in 1967, when he exploded to the top of the list with 277 winners, then a New York record.  He was also the winningest jockey in 1968 and 1969, making him only the second jockey since the beginning of parimutuel racing in 1940 to lead the field three straight years.  He turned that trick again from 1982-84.  In 1976, 1982, and 1983, Cordero was the leading money winning rider in the nation, and in 1983 became the first jockey in history to win more than $10 million in a single year.  His totals were $10,116,087, with 362 winners that year.  In 1976, Cordero rode Bold Forbes to victory in two of the three legs of the Triple Crown, winning the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.  He had three Derby winners and two Preakness winners.  He won the coveted Eclipse Award as the outstanding jockey in the nation twice (1982, 1983) and made another hit with his fans at Aqueduct when he booted home Life’s Magic in the distaff when the Breeders’ Cup made its first New York appearance in 1985.

Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole (Horse racing.  Born, New York, NY, July 11, 1876; died, New York, NY, Feb. 23, 1965.)  Though not a noted owner or breeder, Ashley T. Cole had a profound effect on New York thoroughbred racing.  When Cole was appointed to the Racing Commission by Gov. Herbert Lehman in May 1942, the appointment was something of a surprise in racing circles.  He was named chairman of the Commission following Herbert Bayard Swope’s resignation in 1945, and held the job until his death.  Cole, along with Harry F. Guggenheim and others, organized the not-for-profit New York Racing Association in 1955, which resulted in the closing of Jamaica racetrack and the rebuilding of Aqueduct (and, later, Belmont).  He served as president of the National Association of State Racing Commissioners and helped create the New York breeders awards program.

Isador Bieber

Isador Bieber (Thoroughbred racing.  Born, Vasloveck, Poland, May 10, 1887; died, Hollywood, FL, Aug. 29, 1974.)  Nicknamed “the Colonel” by Damon Runyon, Isador Bieber was born near Warsaw but came to the U.S. as a four-year-old and grew up to become one of racing’s most successful trainers.  By 1928, Bieber had formed a partnership with Hirsch Jacobs that was to last over four decades.  The tandem saddled 3,569 winners and earned over $12 million in purses, a huge figure for the time.  Among their most famous horses were Stymie and Hail to Reason.  After Jacobs’ death in 1970, Bieber continued to train but entered steadily fewer horses.

August Belmont, II

August Belmont, II (Horse racing.  Born, New York, NY, Feb. 18, 1853; died, New York, NY, Dec. 19, 1924.)  Although his father had a passing interest in the “Sport of Kings,” August Belmont II plunged into horse racing in a big way, though it wasn’t the only sport to attract his notice.  Belmont, perhaps best known as the builder of the first New York subway (the Interborough Rapid Transit in 1904), brought the first set of spiked track shoes to America from England and also played in one of the first polo matches ever staged in this country.  But it was in horse racing that he made his biggest sports impact.  He may have been instrumental in maintaining New York as the national leader in the sport.  In the late 1890s, a series of problems was besetting the Westchester Racing Association, which operated a major track in what is now The Bronx.  The lease on the land was to expire and was not going to be renewed.  Belmont solved this little problem rather neatly by building a brand new track on the New York City-Nassau County line, which he called Belmont Park (1904).  The track was the largest and most impressive of its time.  Belmont was also a breeder and owner of thoroughbred horses, including perhaps the most famous of them all – Man O’War – who swept all before him as a three-year-old in 1920.  Unfortunately for Belmont, he had earlier sold Man O’War to S.D. Riddle.  However, other great horses bred at his Nursery Stud in Lexington, Kent., included Rock Sand and Tracery.  In addition to breeding and racing thoroughbreds, his polo interests extended to being one of the founders of the Meadow Brook Hunt Club in Westbury, N.Y.

Laz Barrera

Laz Barrera (Horse racing.  Born, Havana, Cuba, May 8, 1924; died, Downey, CA, Apr. 25, 1991.)  Lazaro Sosa Barrera was one of the outstanding thoroughbred trainers in the nation during a 50-year career that started at age 16 in his native Cuba.  He then transferred his base to Mexico and subsequently to the U.S.  Barrera trained two Belmont Stakes winners, Affirmed in 1978 and Bold Forbes in 1976.  Both were a strong testimony to his training skill.  Bold Forbes was a sprinter, the kind of horse that might win the Kentucky Derby but has little chance in the Belmont with 1½-mile distance.  Bold Forbes did, indeed, win the 1976 Kentucky Derby.  On the same day, Barrera’s Due Diligence won the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.  Bold Forbes sprinted to the early lead in the Preakness but then faded and injured his left hind foot in the process.  Odds against him winning the Belmont mounted with the injury but he came through in a thrilling finish, outdistancing MacKenzie Bridge and Great Contractor in an exciting duel to the wire.  Two years later, Barrera delivered an even bigger package of thrills when Affirmed won the Triple Crown, beating Alydar by a smaller margin in each of the three races.  Affirmed’s margin in the Belmont was a head.  A lifelong Yankees fan, Barrera likened Affirmed to his favorite ballplayer – Joe DiMaggio.  Barrera trained 128 different stakes winners, was selected the outstanding American trainer four years in a row (1976-79) and five times was the leading money-winning trainer in the country (1977-79, 1984, 1986).  But racing fans will always remember him for his Joe DiMaggio – Triple Crown winner Affirmed.

Braulio Baeza

Braulio Baeza (Horse racing.  Born, Panama City, Panama, Mar. 26, 1940.)  During his long career as one of New York’s (and America’s) most successful thoroughbred jockeys, Braulio Baeza accomplished almost everything possible for a jockey to achieve.  At age 21, Baeza rode the first of his three Belmont Stakes winners.  He was the nation’s leading money-winning jockey five times (including four years in a row) and a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award as the nation’s best jockey.  Baeza’s first Belmont winner was Sherluck in 1961 and his victory prevented Carry Back (winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness) from earning the Triple Crown.  His second Belmont winner was Chateaugay, a horse that won two of the three Triple Crown races (winning the Derby but missing out on the Preakness).  In 1969, Majestic Prince made his bid for Triple Crown laurels but Baeza rode Arts & Letters to victory in “the test of champions” to thwart him.  In between his second and third Belmont triumphs, Baeza rose to become the dominant jockey in the country.  In 1965, he led the nation in money earnings for the first of four straight years when his 1,245 rides produced 270 winners (including 24 stakes) worth $2,582,702. He rode 298 winners in 1,341 mounts the next year and just missed the $3 million plateau in earnings ($2,951,022) but became the first jockey to crack that barrier the next year.

Ted Atkinson

Ted Atkinson (Horse racing.  Born, Toronto, Ont., June 17, 1916; died, Beaver Dam, VA, May 5, 2005.)  In the 20th century, no jockey dominated New York racing as did Ted Atkinson.  In a 15-year span from 1943-57, Atkinson was leading jockey at all New York tracks 11 times.  Atkinson became only the third jockey in American history to surpass 3,000 winners when, in 1954, he rode 226 to raise his 17-year career total to 3,069.  Atkinson first became the leading New York rider in 1943.  The next year, he led the nation with 287 wins and was also the nation’s top money-earning rider, with $849,101 in purses.  In 1946, Atkinson became the first jockey to earn over one million dollars in purses in a single year.  That year, he had 233 winners and total earnings of $1,036,825.  He was the leading jockey in New York in 1943, 1944, 1945, 1947, and 1948.  Atkinson rode 198 winners at New York tracks alone in both 1944 and 1948.  He was the dominant rider of the 1950s, finishing first in 1950, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, and 1957.  Among his proudest achievements is being the only rider on the great Tom Fool.  In 30 starts, the bay colt posted 21 wins and finished second seven times.  Tom Fool was the champion 2-year-old of 1951 and Handicap Horse of the Year in 1953.

Eddie Arcaro

Eddie Arcaro (Horse racing. Born, Cincinnati, OH, Feb. 19, 1916; died, Miami, FL, Nov. 14, 1997.)  Although his full name was George Edward Arcaro, the man never used that handle and became known the world over simply as Eddie Arcaro.  Also, simply, he was one of the greatest jockeys in the history of thoroughbred racing.  During a 30-plus-year career that began in 1931, Arcaro rode 4,779 winners worth some $30,039,543.  His great record included 550 wins in major stakes races.  He was the jockey for two Triple Crown winners – Whirlaway in 1941 and Citation in 1948 – and he rode five Kentucky Derby winners.  In New York, Arcaro achieved the distinction of riding in the Belmont Stakes 22 times from 1938-60.  Equally impressive, he rode six Belmont winners.  His final ride came on Jan. 1, 1962.  Arcaro became familiar to sports fans across the country during the early years of the television era.  His pleasing personality and stylish rides earned him popular acclaim among both regular improvers of the breed and casual observers of racing.  Throughout his great career, Arcaro was a particular favorite of New York racing fans, who claimed him as their own.

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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