During a training career that spanned almost 50 years, Laz Barrera produced more than 140 stakes winners, including six champions, and won the coveted Triple Crown with fellow Hall of Famers Affirmed and Steve Cauthen in 1978.
Barrera came from a family with extensive ties to Thoroughbred racing in Cuba. He received his training license at age 16 and quickly became a leading trainer in Cuba and Mexico before coming to the United States.
In 1971, Barrera had his first major win in the U.S. when he sent Tinajero to victory in the Jerome Handicap. Later in the 1970s, he went to Harbor View Farm to replace the retired Ivan Parke. Barrera reached the apex of his career with Harbor View’s Affirmed, a two-time Horse of the Year. Affirmed and Barrera teamed up for 14 Grade 1 victories.
Barrera coached apprentice jockey Steve Cauthen and Affirmed to victory in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1978, making Affirmed America’s 11th Triple Crown winner. Barrera also win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1976 with Bold Forbes.
Other champions trained by Barrera include J.O. Tobin (1978 Champion Sprinter), It’s in the Air (1978 Champion 2-year-old Filly), Lehmi Gold (1982 Champion Older Male) and Tiffany Lass (1986 Champion 3-year-old Filly).
Among Barrera’s other notable victories include the Vosburgh Stakes (2), Saratoga Special, Carter Handicap, Wood Memorial, Whitney Handicap (2), Hopeful, Sanford (2), Strub (3), Santa Anita Derby (2), Hollywood Gold Cup (2), Jockey Club Gold Cup (2), Santa Anita Handicap, Woodward, Alabama, Pennsylvania Derby, Sword Dancer and Kentucky Oaks (2).
Barrera won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer from 1976-79 and led the nation in earnings 1977-80. He won 2,269 races in his career and had purse earnings of $49,932,176. Barrera died in 1991.
Laz Barrera was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1991.
Affirmed vs. Alydar in the Belmont Stakes