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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Gulfstream Press Staff — Larry Bates, who spent more than 60 years as an equestrian in North America and Europe, has passed away in South Florida.

            “A wonderful person who helped a lot of people,” friend Ed Kelly said of Bates.

            “An excellent horseman and generous to a fault,” said veterinarian and former jockey Ben Bealmear of Bates.

            A popular and well-respected horsemen the past 30 years in South Florida, Bates won 454 races. He enjoyed stakes success with Regal Joy, winner of the 1995 Joe Namath (G3), and Black Diamond Cat, who won the Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint and Major Moran in 2011 and Housebuster and Montbrook in 2013. Bates saddled the filly Cher Ami to five stakes victories in 2007.

            Bates also helped prepare Mistical Plan for the 2008 Princess Rooney (G1) when shipped to Calder by trainer Doug O’Neill. The filly would win by 5 ¾ lengths.

            A native of Virginia, Bates worked and rode in New England before switching to steeplechase. He rode in Europe for Daniel Wildenstein and in the U.S. for Paul Fout. Bates was also a fiery competitor when riding.

In an article in Sports Illustrated in 1971, writer Frank Deford tells of Bates leaping from his mount at Delaware one afternoon to jockey Jerry Fishback’s mount, “as in the cowboy movies…dragging [Fishback] to the ground,” to confront Fishback about his ride.

“Larry was an extremely accomplished horsemen,” Bealmear said. “He knew a lot about a horse by being on him but also just by looking them in the eye. He and Allen [Jerkens} became really good friends. Larry told me once when he was having a tough time Allen said, ‘Larry, when it comes to training horses, the first 50 years don’t count.’ “

            Bates, born in 1946, was a history buff and an avid reader and fly fisherman. His last victory was April 6 with Poiema, a daughter of Neolithic who finished second May 28 in an overnight handica

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