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Original Issue

MANUEL YCAZA 1938-2018

LOOKING OUT at a post parade on a cold day in 1957, Manuel Ycaza, a 19-year-old Panamanian jockey who came to the U.S. with dreams of being greater than Eddie Arcaro, mused, "I am not yet ready for this Belmont Park .... These jockeys, they are the velvet, and I am the corduroy." Within seven years, however, Ycaza was as smooth as any rider around, taking the '64 Belmont on Quadrangle to thwart Northern Dancer in his bid for the Triple Crown. By the time he finally retired, in '84, Ycaza—who died last week of pneumonia and sepsis—had nearly 2,400 wins, including two at the Travers Stakes and the '68 New York Filly Triple Crown. But it was one of his narrow losses, at the '62 Preakness, that made for his most unforgettable race. Ycaza brought Ridan down the stretch in a virtual dead heat with Greek Money, who crossed the line first. Ycaza accused the horse and his jockey, John Rotz, of impeding Ridan, but after reviewing the film, race officials determined that Ycaza had tried to drive his elbow into Rotz's chest, and they suspended Ycaza for five days for his "frivolous claim." It was neither the first nor the last time the daring (if at times reckless) rider had been disciplined; Ycaza racked up 376 days of suspensions over a six-year period. But his penchant for fouls was always rooted in a desire to win, which he did enough to earn a place in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1977.