Indicted Baeza Gets Help From Race Industry

By Claire Novak
Industry leaders continue to support former jockey Braulio Baeza, who was terminated from his position as the New York Racing Association's assistant clerk of scales in September of 2005 following a NYRA-initiated probe of weigh-in records.

Baeza was indicted on 291 counts along with his supervisor, Mario Sclafani, formerly head clerk of scales for NYRA, stemming from allegedly falsified weight records. The case is currently on hold until September, when first motions are expected to be heard.

According to Baeza's representative, Janice Blake, the 66-year-old Hall of Fame member is saddled with approximately $75,000 worth of legal fees from his defense lawyer, Paul DerOhannesian, of the Albany, N.Y., firm DerOhannesian and DerOhannesian.

"Braulio's lawyer knew the financial situation before he took the case," Blake said. "However, payments for the legal fees were due by December 31 of last year. We've paid approximately $10,000 through fundraising – everybody in the industry is behind Braulio and believes in his innocence."

Blake heads up the Friends of Braulio Fund, established to facilitate fundraising for the former rider. The fund's latest thrust is an Aug. 6 event featuring racing personalities like NYRA announcer Tom Durkin and Sackatoga Stable owner Jack Knowlton. The fundraiser will be held at the Saratoga Hotel, with a cocktail hour scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. and a live auction at 7:45 p.m.

"We have twenty live auction items, including a silver trumpet donated by Sam Grossman (NYRA bugler), a Nick Martinez painting of Barbaro's Kentucky Derby victory, and a silver trophy from the 1967 Whitney," Blake said. "There will be a silent auction as well, including photos autographed by the connections of Barbaro, Flower Alley, and Jazil.

Blake said that donations may be sent to the Friends of Braulio Fund at P.O. Box 62, Elmont, NY 11003.