OBITUARY: Sally Bailie

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The Independent Online
Amid the successes of Jenny Pitman, Mercy Rimmel, Monica Dickinson and Lady Herries, the impact on racing of another British-born woman trainer has passed largely unnoticed in Britain. But the achievements of Sally Bailie, who had trained in New York since 1970, are no less significant.

Bailie notched a series of firsts for a woman trainer in the cut-and- thrust world of American racing. When Tequillo Boogie won the New York Breeders' Futurity at Finger Lakes, in 1977, she became the first woman trainer to win a race worth six figures. Five years later Fast Gold's victory in the Pegasus Handicap made Bailie the first trainer of her sex to win a stakes race worth $200,000. And when she saddled the appropriately named Win to run in the Japan Cup, in Tokyo, in 1985 she was the first woman trainer to have a runner in what was then the world's richest race.

Win was easily Bailie's best horse, achieving as much in defeat, when a narrow second to the great John Henry in the 1984 Turf Classic, at Aqueduct, as he did with a series of top-level wins including the Grade One Man o' War Stakes.

The tight dirt tracks of New York are a far cry from Bailie's quintessentially English origins. Born in Somerset in 1937 she grew up on a farm and was introduced to horses as a child by a neighbour who kept ponies, which she rode in competitive races. As a teenager she graduated, with considerable success, to riding in point-to-points.

She left Britain in 1965, having started training her own point-to-pointers, to work in New York as assistant to Tommy Waller. She very much had her own ideas on training, though, and once said: "I was learning by trial and error. When you make your own mistakes, you learn not to do them again."

She earned many admirers in her fight against cancer and her last runner, Cool Babe, was a popular winner, by a nose, of a restricted maiden at Aqueduct on 13 April. Earlier this month, while she was fighting her terminal disease in Winthrop Hospital, on Long Island, her friends auctioned a Jack Russell puppy at the races to help pay her medical costs. Selling tickets at $10 each, they raised more than $6,000.

Bailie, however, wanted nothing to do with the money. Instead she asked that it be divided between Jacqueline Johnson, a five-year-old girl in need of kidney surgery, and the 10-year-old son of a groom, Antonio Vizcarrondo, who was killed three weeks ago while exercising a horse at Belmont Park for the trainer Tommy Walsh.

Richard Griffiths

Sally Anne Bailie, racehorse trainer: born Somerset 8 January 1937; died Mineola, New York 21 August 1995.