Our Kentucky Derby Hall of Famers

By Efrain Nieves & Victoria Cepeda

As the Kentucky Derby kicks off today, we wanted to let you know that The Kentucky Derby is one of the USA’s oldest Thoroughbred horse races. The race was inspired by England’s Epsom Derby and France’s Grand Prix de Paris.  It was Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr upon his return home to Kentucky that organized the Louisville Jockey Club for the purpose of raising money to build quality racing facilities just outside of the city. The track became known as Churchill Downs, named for John and Henry Churchill who had provided the land for the racetrack.

Ever since then, Latinos have tapped into this famously elite race setting and breaking records. Pa’lante is proud to showcase 3 Latinos honoured and/or inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame jockey Braulio Baeza  was born on March 26, 1940 in Panama City, Panama. He began racing in 1955 and moved to compete in the United States in 1960. He won the very first race he competed in called the Keeneland Race Course. In 1963, Baeza rod his first Kentucky Derby victory on Chateaugay as well as for his second Belmont Stakes win. In 1969 he won the Belmont Stakes in 1961, 1963 and 1969. Braulio Baeza retired in 1976 after having won 3140 races in the United States. He was inducted that same year into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Major wins

Kentucky Oaks (1961, 1976), Blue Grass Stakes (1961, 1963, 1976), Wood Memorial Stakes (1962), Kentucky Derby (1963), Belmont Stakes (1961, 1963, 1969), Jockey Club Gold Cup (1965, 1966, 1969), Travers Stakes (1966, 1969, 1972, 1975), Whitney Handicap (1968, 1972) Washington, D.C. International (1972), Canadian International Stakes (1972), Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (1967, 1973)

Angel Tomas Cordero, Jr. born on May 8, 1942 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Cordero is one of the leading thoroughbred horse racing jockeys of all time and the only Puerto Rican to date to be inducted into the United States’ Racing Hall of Fame. Cordero was raised among thoroughbred horses and his father, Angel Cordero Sr. was also a rider and trainer. Cordero is now retired from riding but is the agent of fellow Puerto Rican horse jockey, John Velazquez.

Major wins

Kentucky Oaks (1984, 1989), Jockey Club Gold Cup (1972, 1983, 1984), Del Mar Futurity (1984), Suburban Handicap (1969, 1970, 1974, 1987, 1989), Matron Stakes (1974, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991), Canadian International Stakes (1977), Kentucky Derby (1974, 1976, 1985), Preakness Stakes (1980, 1984), Belmont Stakes (1976), Arlington Million (1987), Breeders’ Cup Distaff (1985), Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (1988), Breeders’ Cup Sprint (1988 & 1989), Washington, D.C. International (191988), Pimlico Special (1989)

José Adeón Santos León was born on April 26, 1961, in Concepción, Chile.  He  first raced horses at the Club Hípico de Concepción in his native Chile before moving to the United States in 1984. In the U.S. he was the top money-winning jockey from 1986 through 1989, winning the 1988 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey. He won seven Breeders’ Cup races and won the 1999 Belmont Stakes aboard Lemon Drop Kid. He won the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes with Funny Cide but missed winning the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing after finishing third in the Belmont Stakes. More recently, Santos has said that Funny Cide was not the greatest horse he ever rode but certainly was his personal favorite. In 2011 Jose Santos’ biography “Above it All the Turbulent Life of Jose Santos” was authored by award winning author Bill Heller. He is now retired Chilean and has been honored by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Major wins

Lawrence Realization Stakes (1985, 2000), Mother Goose Stakes (1986), Hill Prince Stakes (1986, 1987, 1996), Vagrancy Handicap (1986, 1992), Vosburgh Stakes (1986), Turf Classic Invitational Handicap (1986, 1989), United Nations Handicap (1986, 1988, 1990, 1993) Bertram F. Bongard Stakes (1987, 1997, 2002), Florida Derby (1987, 1991), Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (1987, 2005), Kentucky Oaks (1987), Remsen Stakes (1987), Wood Memorial Stakes (1987), Brooklyn Handicap (1988), Carter Handicap (1988, 1992, 2006) Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (1988, 1989), Jockey Club Gold Cup (1988, 1994, 2004), Laurel Futurity (1988), Metropolitan Handicap (1988, 1990), Personal Ensign Handicap (1988, 2003), San Fernando Stakes (1988), Arlington Million (1989, 1993), Garden City Breeders’ Cup Handicap (1989, 1990, 1991, 2004), Futurity Stakes (1989, 1994), Ladies Handicap (1989, 1990), Man O’ War Stakes (1989, 1993) Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (1989), Champagne Stakes (1990), Dwyer Stakes (1990), Frizette Stakes (1990), Hollywood Gold Cup (1990) Matron Stakes (1990, 1993), Pimlico Special (1990), Jerome Handicap (1991, 2003), Strub Stakes (1991), Manhattan Handicap (1993, 1998) Coaching Club American Oaks (1994, 1995), Saratoga Special Stakes (1994, 1995, 2000), Withers Stakes (1994, 1995, 2002) Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes (1995), Tropical Park Oaks (1997), Jenny Wiley Stakes (1998), Travers Stakes (1999), Hopeful Stakes (2000) Fall Highweight Handicap (2001), Gallant Bloom Handicap (2002), Maid of the Mist Stakes (2002), Gazelle Handicap (2002) Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf (2003), Belmont Lexington Stakes (2004), Beldame Stakes (2006), Monmouth Breeders’ Cup Oaks (2006) Kentucky Derby (2003), Preakness Stakes (2003), Belmont Stakes (1999), Breeders’ Cup Turf (1986, 1997), Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (1987, 1990), Breeders’ Cup Mile (1989), Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (1990), Breeders’ Cup Classic (2002), Canadian International Stakes (1986, 1997), King Edward Stakes (1997)

These men are only three of many that make us proud. Let us show our support and encourage others with similar inclinations to follow in their footsteps. The sky is the limit and opportunities abound to distinguish ourselves in various sports disciplines. Pa’lante!

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