THE WINNER ALMOST DIDN'T START THE RACE

June 16, 1963

Just two hours before the 95th running of the Belmont Stakes at Aqueduct last week, Owner John W. Galbreath, Trainer Jimmy Conway and Jockey Braulio Baeza came out of a trackside huddle with an important decision: because he did not seem to like running on an off track, their Kentucky Derby winner, Chateaugay, would be scratched from his rubber match with the Preakness winner and odds-on favorite, Candy Spots. An hour later, just before they would have to make their decision official, they watched a field of 2-year-olds race close to a track record. "The going can't be so bad," said Galbreath. "We'll run." So Chateaugay ran, and he beat Candy Spots by two and a half lengths, winning the Belmont and the title of 3-year-old champion. As he had done in the Derby, Baeza won his riding duel with Candy Spots' Bill Shoemaker. This time Shoe was criticized for slowing down the pace and then playing cat and mouse with his pursuers instead of opening a large early lead that might have been insurmountable even to a late runner like Chateaugay. At right and on the following pages the contending jockeys describe the race in their own words.

SHOEMAKER:
Candy Spots had the inside post position, broke real good and came out of the gate straight as a string. A few jumps after the start, Bonjour gunned right to the front and I let him stay there until the clubhouse turn, where I pushed Candy for the lead.

ROTZ:
When I saw Bonjour and Candy Spots ahead of me, I let them go. Choker [2] runs his best just a bit off the leaders, and I decided to let them carry the target.

USSERY:
The only chance I felt Bonjour [4] had was to blast right out of the gate, so I pushed him to the lead going past the stands the first time around.

BAEZA:
Chateaugay [5] showed me a lot of speed right away. I had to take him back. You didn't think I was going to try and put him in front for a full mile and a half.' But he wasn't handling the track well. He was slipping.

SHOEMAKER:
I got the lead going up the backstretch. Candy was pricking up his ears and going right on about his business. I felt he was running real good.

SHOEMAKER:
At about the three-eighths pole Candy took a look at the starting gate, but it didn't seem to bother him. Still in the lead he drifted out a little, but not any more than you might expect. In the stretch he started to choke up and to have trouble catching his breath.

ROTZ:
I went outside with Choker to start a run at Candy Spots. If I had stayed in along the rail I would have shut off Chateaugay, but once I started outside I was committed. If I shut off Baeza I would be in trouble with the stewards.

BAEZA:
I am on the inside, behind Candy Spots, because the going was better there. From the quarter pole to the eighth pole I got through inside, and I was in front.

SHOEMAKER:
Candy Spots [l] was still going along good. Bonjour was the only horse that was even close to me.

USSERY:
Bonjour [4] got pretty close to Candy Spots along the inside, but right about in here it was like someone had riddled him with a machine gun. He just didn't want to run anymore.

ROTZ:
Choker [2] felt like he was climbing a little, but he runs that way. I wanted to stay on the rail with him but I had to come out to get around Bonjour.

BAEZA:
Chateaugay [5] was running relaxed now. I know this track is not uniform. It is better to run a little away from the rail here, but not in the homestretch. I know I have lots of horse under me, and I will go after the leaders on the turn.

BAEZA:
Maybe three times only I hit my horse in the last eighth of a mile. I saw we were pulling away, but I didn't look back. I just kept on riding.

SHOEMAKER:
There wasn't an excuse for Candy Spots. He got beat by a better horse. I had to scramble a little to save second money from Choker. Great horses do not lose two-thirds of the Triple Crown.

BAEZA:
Not until Chateaugay passed under the wire did I really believe I won. It is a great honor for me to win this race.

TWO PHOTOS PHOTOIn the backstretch PHOTOHalf a mile to go
PHOTOTurning for home PHOTOThe finish

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)