By Cindy Deubler
Thirty-three thousand people sweat in the clubhouse and grandstand as two Thoroughbreds battle down the stretch, locked together in a duel that will award one – just one – a victory in the year’s richest race for 3-year-olds. The jockeys implore, the bettors cheer, trainers stress, owners hope, the horses keep running. Everybody leans as the colts flash across the finish line, inseparable for all but the photo-finish camera.
May 19, 1962 in Baltimore. Preakness Day at Pimlico. Hot (nearly 100 degrees), meaningful, pressure-filled, the day had it all. The big race, worth a cool $188,300, lured a field of 11, including division leaders Ridan and Jaipur. The 87th Preakness, 50 years ago, started as a showdown between those two and Kentucky Derby winner Decidedly. It ended in a crowning achievement for long-standing Mid-Atlantic connections – and controversy.
Greek Money, owned by Delaware’s Brandywine Stable and foaled in Virginia, survived a stretch slugfest with Ridan to win by a nose – upsetting the big names and providing a signature moment in Preakness history. The 1962 race annually makes various Preakness and Triple Crown top 10 lists for its drama, its close finish, and its aftermath.
In the stifling heat, winning owner/breeder Donald Ross, trainer Virgil W. (Buddy) Raines, jockey John Rotz and the Pimlico throng waited out the photo finish, which was followed by a jockey’s objection from Manuel Ycaza, whose ride on Ridan came up short. After watching the film for what seemed an eternity, the stewards allowed the results to stand.
Soon, photographs and film of the finish circulated, capturing the fiery Ycaza leaning out of his saddle and appearing to impede Rotz. Ycaza’s audacious objection brought on further review by the stewards, who took the stand to reprimand one of the nation’s top riders. The objection began to take on a life of its own.
Raines started training for Ross in the mid-1940s and remained until Ross’ death in 1973. The relationship between Ross, a member of the duPont family by marriage and co-founder/president of Delaware Park, and Raines, a soft-spoken Midwesterner whose life story read like a Dickens work, led to many successes. Greek Money was one of their finest achievements, written from two bases in Delaware – one a private training facility complete with indoor track within the grounds of Delaware Park, and the other a sprawling 1,300-acre farm a few miles north on Limestone Road.
More than a decade earlier, Ross and Raines made an arrangement with Greentree Stable in Kentucky to purchase a handful of yearlings from the famed nursery. While some considered the offerings culls, Brandywine soon reaped success with a number of its selections, including Cochise and Greek Song.
Distance-loving Cochise would earn more than $250,000 and go to stud in Virginia. Greek Song proved wonderfully adept at winning races at 1¼ miles – including the Dwyer (over champion Hill Prince) and Arlington Classic (defeating Bed o’ Roses and Your Host). In his seventh season at stud in Kentucky, he sired Greek Money, a chestnut colt produced by the English import *Lucy Lufton.
Greek Money was foaled in Warrenton, Va., at J. North Fletcher’s Crestone Farm, where Cochise stood, as *Lucy Lufton was bred to that stallion in 1959. When *Lucy Lufton (one of England’s top juvenile fillies of 1954) went back to Cochise in 1960, she produced a roan filly named Open Fire, who won four stakes, including the Delaware Handicap, for Brandywine and Raines. Open Fire was the co-champion handicap mare of 1966.
Greek Money came to hand a little earlier in his career than Open Fire, but it was not until his win in the James H. Connors Memorial Stakes at Narragansett Park in November – one of three wins from 16 starts his juvenile season – did his connections consider the lanky colt a possible classic contender.
At season’s end, Raines decided to give Greek Money time off at the Delaware Park farm, instead of sending the colt to Louisiana with the rest of the string, and he spent the winter in the north.
“We feel that if a 2-year-old races as much as 10 times in the summer, he needs a rest,” explained Raines that spring. “We thought we had a good one. We thought he was about 5 lengths behind the top ones and that, if we sent him to the farm and let him grow, maybe he’d pick up those lengths.”
Eddie Vansant stayed in Delaware with Greek Money and followed the plan – a solid month off and steady progress on the indoor track. Spring was the goal.
“I didn’t do a thing with him at first,” said Vansant, now 80 and living in Florida. “I turned him out in a paddock with a donkey a friend of mine had. Two hours every day. The first day, Greek Money ran over like he was going to tear that donkey’s head off. The donkey went to hollering and kicking and that was that. They got along fine.”
January 1 brought the first steps toward a classic, taken in a quarter-mile oval connected to the barn. Greek Money and Vansant would jog a mile and “lope” a mile. By February, he was up to galloping. Vansant would let the colt two-minute lick a quarter every Saturday.
“He’d just about pull you in half when you galloped him,” Vansant said. “And he’d throw a great big buck into you when you’d come down from a gallop to a lope.”
Greek Money dealt with stifle issues, but the joint stayed good. By March, he was ready. Vansant and the horse went to Laurel for the finishing touches and first outdoor training of the winter.
Greek Money made his first start in early April at the track, finishing second in allowance company. That tightened the colt perfectly for the Chesapeake Stakes over the same track 10 days later. He rolled home by more than 5 lengths, in track record time of 1:43 4/5, slashing four-fifths of a second off the previous mark for 1 1/16 miles.
Bypassing the Kentucky Derby, which Decidedly won in record time (2:00 2/5) with even-money favorite Ridan finishing third, Raines sent Ross’ colt to Pimlico for the Preakness Prep on May 12, one week before the Preakness. Ridden for the first time by Rotz, Greek Money won in a laugher over two rivals, galloping home 7½ lengths in front.
“Give Buddy credit, he planned it from the start,” said Vansant. “In November, he said we were going to run him a distance of ground at Narragansett, give him a vacation, stay north all winter and then come back with a fresh horse for the Preakness. It worked.”
It was all systems go for the Preakness, although Raines commented, “He hasn’t beat horses as good as those coming from the Derby.”
Buddy to everyone
“He was known from here to Montana as Buddy, a one-time cowboy,” said track historian Joe Kelly of Raines. “Buddy was a man of endless optimism. . . talking to Buddy was like taking a happiness pill. The Titanic would not have sunk if he had been aboard.”
Raines’ optimistic outlook on life took him to racing’s biggest stage, a long trek from where he started. Born in Illinois, one of 16 children, Raines was given away by his parents at about the age of 4 to a horsetrader friend. Recalling this chapter of his life with The Maryland Horse’s Lucy Acton in 1992, Raines matter-of-factly stated, “The man, whose name was Charlie Landgreve, had lost his wife. He had two little girls, named Doris and Nellie – I’ll never forget them. He told my father he sure would like to have a boy, and that’s how it came about. ‘Why don’t you take one of ours? How about that little fellow over there?’ said my father. ‘He’s a good healthy little kid.’?”
Raines was passed along to other horsetraders during those early years, but described it as “the best life in the world.” And he eventually reunited with his parents. “When I was 25 years old, I bought [my mother] a house,” he said.
While traveling with a trainer named C.W. Dayton, Raines was sold to a scout who was looking for a jockey, who in turn sold the then 14-year-old’s contract to legendary Hall of Fame trainer R.A. (Whistling Bob) Smith.
Under Smith’s employ, Raines was first a jockey, then the assistant trainer. Raines was in his early 20s when Smith took over Isabel Dodge Sloane’s Brookmeade Stable. “We had some of the best horses I had ever seen,” Raines told The Maryland Horse. Among them was 1934 Horse of the Year Cavalcade, who won that year’s Kentucky Derby.
Raines was in charge of Brookmeade’s second string, including High Quest, whom the young horseman considered better than Cavalcade. High Quest beat Cavalcade by a nose in the Preakness. Both horses ran with Smith listed as trainer.
Kelly covered the 1962 Preakness for The Washington Star, and recalled checking in with Raines:
“I asked about plans for Greek Money, and Buddy pulled an envelope from his pocket. ‘What do you think of this?’ It was a letter from a female fan which stated that she dreamt that Greek Money won the Preakness, and suggested strongly that the colt should run in the race.
“I remember, in answer to Buddy about what he should do, I asked him how Greek Money was training. ‘He never looked better’ came the reply. I told him, ‘Trainers do not get many chances like this one. Run him in the Preakness then.’?”
Greek Money was the only Preakness runner to come into the race with a win at Pimlico that spring, which helped his odds, but he still went off as fourth choice at nearly 11-1. Seven Derby participants entered, including the top three.
The blaze-faced Nantallah colt Ridan, trained by Leroy Jolley for a partnership of Jolley’s father, Moody, Ernest Woods and John L. Greer, went off as the favorite. Undefeated in seven starts at 2, Ridan was well seasoned heading into the Triple Crown, having crossed the wire in the top three in all six of his 3-year-old starts prior to the Derby (although he was disqualified to fourth in the Everglades Stakes).
Receiving equal backing was George D. Widener’s *Nasrullah colt, Jaipur, trained by Bert Mulholland. Never worse than second in seven starts at 2, Jaipur did not contest the Derby, but won both starts prior to the Preakness?–?the Gotham and Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.
El Peco Ranch’s California-bred Derby winner Decidedly, the Preakness third choice, was trained by the dashing and colorful Argentinian Horatio Luro.
Controversy swirled during Preakness Week as Luro was furious with the condition of the racetrack. Described as dull in the opening days of the meet in early May, the surface was revamped with truckloads of dirt, which tightened the sandy consistency. But when two additional loads of dirt, which had not been screened, were added, stones were found in abundance. Luro had to cancel a scheduled workout for Decidedly, and announced the Derby winner would not be able to run if the stones were not removed.
Pimlico executive director Lou Pondfield quickly resolved the issue, dispatching a crew to clean up the track – “by hand and machine they removed the stones” reported The Blood-Horse. Luro was placated, and Decidedly took his place in the field.
Kelly recalled the unfolding of that year’s Pimlico classic: “Out of the gate, Jaipur bounded to the lead. But after a half-mile, he tired badly. Ycaza was never worse than third with Ridan and took the lead easily leaving the backstretch. Greek Money, with Rotz, was full of run and moved smartly on the inside around the last turn.”
Ridan, who was still on the lead, drifted out passing the quarter pole, as the Derby runner-up, Roman Line, moved to his outside. This opened a lane for Greek Money, who eagerly shot through heading into the stretch.
At that point, Greek Money looked home free. But Ridan refocused and took dead aim on the new leader, catching him in mid-stretch and getting his neck in front. It appeared the win would go to Ridan, but as he drifted in on Greek Money, the colt on the rail kept digging, and down the stretch the two battled. Kelly said: “It was a classic dog fight to the wire?–?one of the most exciting ever seen at old Pimlico.”
Famed racing chronicler Charlie Hatton wrote in the American Racing Manual’s “Review of 1962 Races” – “In the last 70 yards, Ycaza threw caution to the wind and was interfering with Rotz while his mount lay over on Greek Money, much as he had little Cicada in Florida’s Derby. Ycaza indeed finished practically sitting beside Rotz on the Brandywine colt, but the latter hit the wire with his head down and a nose in front. Ridan’s head had elevated as he tired and climbed the last strides.”
Roman Line ran on to finish third, 5½ lengths behind the top two. Decidedly was never a factor and wound up eighth.
Drama continued on Sunday
The controversy of Ycaza’s claim of foul didn’t end on Preakness Day.
Maryland head steward Joseph Flanagan was obviously upset, remembered Kelly, for a claim deemed “frivolous.” An unprecedented hearing was held Sunday morning, drawing the connections of the top two horses, as well as a large group of national press. The film of the stretch run was replayed numerous times.
Also considered as evidence of whether to take action was a photograph by the Baltimore Sun’s Joseph A. DiPaola. Clearly seen in the head-on of the dueling colts was Ycaza’s elbow pushing into Rotz. Sam Boulmetis of the Jockeys’ Guild was in attendance to protest the use of the photo.
“When Ycaza attempted to speak, steward Flanagan said, ‘sit down, Mr. Ycaza. I think we have heard enough from you,’ ” Kelly recalled.
Ycaza was suspended 10 days and fined $200, but the stewards recommended the Maryland Racing Commission add another 20 days. The commission didn’t agree during a hearing and reduced the suspension from 10 racing days to 10 calendar days. Testimony provided by Rotz, in which he said Ycaza “didn’t bother my riding one bit” helped his rival’s case.
Beyond the Preakness
The 3-year-old class of 1962 was an exciting bunch. Close finishes, plus a number of disqualifications, marked the early season, and it continued through the summer. While Greek Money won just once more that year, in an allowance at Garden State in October, his contemporaries battled for the championship title, with Jaipur coming out on top.
After his horrible effort in the Preakness, Jaipur returned in the rich Jersey Derby and finished in a three-way photo, with Crimson Satan and Admiral’s Voyage, and took the win upon the disqualification of Crimson Satan. Jaipur then captured the Belmont Stakes by a nose over Admiral’s Voyage (Greek Money was seventh). The battles continued, the most spectacular between Jaipur and Ridan in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, as the pair hooked up out of the gate and ran as a team the entire 1¼ miles. Jaipur won by a nose.
The DiPaola photo was a sensation. It was the “Photo of the Week” in the June 1, 1962, issue of Life magazine, and went on to win numerous awards. The national media was quick to condemn the actions of Ycaza, including the editors of Life, who captioned the DiPaola photo: “Roughest Rider’s Foul At Finish” and noted that “Ycaza, the pictures showed, had been guilty of one of the most spectacular fouls in decades. . . One of the nation’s best jockeys, Ycaza is probably better known for his rough riding than his good riding. . .”
Luckily for Ycaza, racing was more willing to recognize his talents. Pilot of the likes of Bald Eagle, Dark Mirage and Quadrangle, he received the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1964, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1977.
Rotz reached the Hall of Fame in 1983. His biography there explains that he received the nickname “Gentleman John” because of his “polite, articulate and professional nature.” He received the George Woolf Award in 1973 and retired to a long career as a steward.
Raines sits in an elite group to have batted 1.000 in the Preakness (among others are Morris Dixon with Polynesian and Johnny Longden with Majestic Prince). Raines ran a public stable after Ross’ death, and counted among his clients Christiana Stable, Dogwood Stable and Liz Whitney Tippett. The first owner in the public stable was Anderson Fowler, and they had a long and successful association with, among others, Grade 1 winner Timely Warning and graded stakes winner Master Speaker. Together they won three consecutive Maryland Million Classics.
Nominated to the Hall of Fame, but never elected, Raines died in May 2000 at 89. Monmouth Park honors him with a distinguished achievement award in his name. Grandsons Mike and John Luzzi are still active as jockeys.
Donald Ross Jr. succeeded his father at Delaware Park and kept the Brandywine Stable name active through a small stable of flat and steeplechase horses into the 1990s, but the family sold the Delaware farm and Delaware Park.
Golfers at the track’s White Clay Creek Country Club golf course play past Raines’ former home and the Brandywine barn/indoor track complex.