How Laz Barrera’s Family is Keeping His Legacy Alive

How Laz Barrera’s Family is Keeping His Legacy Alive

Laz Barrera's Family. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

For more than 25 years, Laz Barrera‘s family has carved out a reputation as one of the top trainer families in the nation, winning many races at many tracks. Known for his charisma and colorful quotes, the most successful one from the Barrera family is Lazaro Sosa Barrera.

Considered the Casey Stengel of the racetracks, with a treasure trove of stories and a backstretch philosophy, he recounted them all with his incomparable Spanish accent. It didn’t worry him that others couldn’t comprehend what he was saying. The Cuban was satisfied that his horses understood him; that was all that mattered to him.

Making a Name for Himself

Barrera was a minor trainer in 1976, having passed 50 without leaving an indelible mark on the sport. In this game, though, a man’s riches and reputation may occasionally be created or shattered in a single race, and Laz Barrera’s entire existence was changed on the first Saturday in May 1976 at Churchill Downs.

Barrera had come to the Kentucky Derby with his colt Bold Forbes, the prototypical horse that could not win at the Derby distance. The odds were heavily against the jockey.

Deciding to Write His Destiny

Laz subjected the underrated colt to a routine of long, leisurely gallops and workouts to increase his stamina and teach him to relax. Barrera expressed confidence that his experiment would be successful, although nothing in his or his horse’s track record indicated it would.

Barrera’s hard work finally paid off, and he was acclaimed as a genius after Bold Forbes overcame Honest Pleasure and then stunned the pedigree experts by winning the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes.

Laz Barrera's Family
Laz Barrera’s Family . Image Source: Social Media.

While Barrera has stated that his derby victory with Bold Forbes was his most satisfying triumph, his triple crown sweep with Affirmed, the horse of his greatest ambitions, was the most exhilarating. In 1978 and 1979, Affirmed was named Horse of the Year.

ALSO READ: The Real Reason Nazanin Boniadi and Tom Cruise Split

Love is a Double-Edged Sword

Anybody who spends more than a few minutes watching Barrera at the racing track can sense his ferocity. The horse rider doesn’t work with a manual to teach his horses. Instead, the rider decides what to do by carefully observing them—watching them gallop on the track and wander around the barn, analyzing every movement and centimeter of their bodies for signs of their feelings and needs.

On the day that Affirmed won the Santa Anita Handicap, the responsibilities of the job and the sheer stress of caring for a million-dollar horse took a toll on Barrera.

After the race, while the colt’s owners were toasting with champagne, Barrera went home and dialed his doctor after awakening to a sharp discomfort in his chest. He underwent triple-bypass heart surgery the following day while lying on an operating table.

A Heart of a Lion

Although that incident made Barrera take stock of his life and work, it didn’t spur him to make any changes. Even if he’s not racing a horse, he still comes to the track every day because he still works seven days a week.

The equestrian has said that racing is the greatest thing in the world and that it is the love of his life. Furthermore, he would have preferred to pass away on the track if he had to.

The legendary rider became the only trainer ever to win four consecutive Eclipse awards. For his outstanding achievements, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1979. Taking about another legend in the industry, King T. Leatherbury is another great of the sport. Be sure to check out his article as well.

A Little Bit About Laz Barrera’s Family

Laz Barrera’s family is one that has been in the industry for a long time. His father was a Cuban jockey, while his mother was the daughter of a French missionary. Together the couple had 12 children, five of whom went on to work as horse trainers. Sadly Laz died in California at 66, just three weeks after his brother, Oscar Barrera, had passed away.

Luis Barrera, their elder brother and also a trainer, battled with the magnitude of the tragedy and communicated his sadness by comparing losing them to losing fingers on your hand. 

When Laz died in 1991, a Grade II seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park Racetrack was named in his honor. The race, appropriately named Lazaro Barrera Stakes, is held annually, and aspiring jockeys can pocket $100,000 from the event. So hopefully, we can get more legendary jockeys inspired by him.

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