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Manuel Ycaza

Manuel Ycaza
Induction Year: 
1977
Born: 
Feb. 1, 1938, Panama City, Panama
Died: 
July 16, 2018, New York City
Career Years: 
1956-1971; 1983
Number of Mounts: 
10,561
Number of Winners: 
2,367
Winning Percentage: 
22.40%

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Bio

As the first Latin jockey elected to the Hall of Fame, Manny Ycaza was one of racing’s great trailblazers. A favorite of railbirds, a scourge of race stewards and an inspiration to great Panamanian jockeys such as Braulio Baeza, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Jorge Velasquez and Jacinto Vasquez who followed his path to compete in the United States, Ycaza was a fiery competitor on the track and a gentleman in his personal life.

 

The son of a bus driver, Ycaza began riding ponies at the age of 6 and was riding professionally in Panama at age 14. He then spent some time competing in Mexico before coming to the United States in 1956.

 

Riding for the famous Cain Hoy Stable, Ycaza won the 1959 D.C. International aboard Bald Eagle then came back with the same horse the following year to become the only back-to-back winner in the history of the prestigious race.

 

Hired by prominent Canadian owner/breeder E. P. Taylor to ride for his Windfields Farm in the 1963 Queen’s Plate, Ycaza won Canada’s most prestigious race aboard the colt Canebora. A year later, he rode Quadrangle to victory in the 1964 Belmont Stakes to thwart the Triple Crown bid of Northern Dancer. In 1968, Ycaza rode Dark Mirage to the first ever Filly Triple Crown when they won the Acorn Stakes, Mother Goose Stakes and the Coaching Club American Oaks.  

 

Fearless and aggressive — sometimes to a fault — Ycaza was among the most penalized riders of his era. In a 1962 feature on “the Latin invasion” in horse racing, Sports Illustrated reported that “in the last six years stewards have suspended him for fouls for more than one full year (376 racing days).”

 

Major wins for Ycaza include the Travers Stakes (2), American Derby, Jerome Handicap, Kentucky Oaks (4), Suburban Handicap (2), Withers Stakes (2), Alabama Stakes, Arlington Handicap, Aqueduct Handicap, Bernard Baruch (3), Metropolitan Handicap, Champagne Stakes (3), Belmont Futurity (2), Saratoga Special (2), Blue Grass Stakes, Florida Derby, Tremont Stakes (2), Beldame Stakes, Hopeful Stakes, Santa Anita Oaks, Dwyer Stakes, Man o’ War Stakes, Strub Stakes, Diana Handicap, Brooklyn Handicap and Sanford Stakes.

 

Ycaza spent much of his career in New York and found particular success at Saratoga Race Course, where he won 41 races in 1959 alone, breaking a record that had stood for 38 years.

 

Ycaza, who won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1964, went down in a spill at Hialeah Park in Florida in 1970, which him to retire the following year. Around that time, he received a call from Brig. Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera, Panama’s dictatorial leader, to serve as consul general in New York City. Ycaza held the position for about a year.

 

In 1977, Ycaza became the first Latin rider inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame. He came back to ride in 1983 but retired shortly thereafter for good with 2,367 wins.  

 

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