Meet Jockey E. T. Baird!
Meet Jockey E. T. Baird!
By M. Scott McMannis
Jockey E. T. "Eddie" Baird followed in his dad's footsteps, literally as well as figuratively. Young Baird's father was the local legend and riding great R. L. "Bobby" Baird who passed over last December at the age of 85.
"My dad was riding for trainer Smiley Adams, among others, in the late 1970's," began Baird. "I was about 13 years old when Mr. Adams would let me walk the well-mannered horses around the barn.”
“Later I went to work for trainer Paul Darjean, and from there for Harvey Vanier," continued Baird. "It was when I was working for Mr. Vanier, in 1983, that I took out my exercise rider's license."
In 1985 Baird went to work for trainer Tim Muckler.
"I did just about everything," stated Baird. "I was not only an exercise rider, I rubbed and wrapped, fed in the morning and the afternoon, you name it. It was during that time with Mr. Muckler that I took out my jockey's license, just before my 19th birthday in November."
From that point it was Lucky Number Seven for Baird.
"My first ride was aboard Navy Gloves for trainer Jim Levitch," said Baird to start the story. "She was the #7 horse in the 7th race at Hawthorne. "My first win was for Mr. Darjean," Baird progressed. "The filly's name was Lone Oak Lady, she was the #7 horse in her race, and she was the 7th mount of my career.
"Finally, my first stake win was aboard Hi Oak Silver for trainer Ernie Poulos. Believe it or not, he was the #7 horse in his race," Baird concluded.
In 1986 Hawthorne ran the bulk of the summer race dates. Baird scored a career highlight with that meet by becoming the first apprentice to be the leading rider for a Hawthorne meet. During that summer Arlington ran an abbreviated 14-day race meet, and Baird finished third in the jockey standings behind riding greats Pat Day and Sandy Hawley.
Fresh off his accomplishments, Baird headed for New York. In the fall of '86 he tied for the Aqueduct riding title with the star-crossed Chris Antley. Baird rode for two more years in New York.
In the spring of 1989 he returned to Chicago to ride Empress Of Love in the Jockey Club Oaks and finished second. He won with his other three mounts on the card and, shortly thereafter, decided to return to Chicago to ride full time.
Flash forward to the present. In this current meet Baird has ridden in fewer races than several jocks but has been effective with six wins from less than 30 mounts for a 20%-plus strike rate, as of this writing.
"I have emphasized quality over quantity of mounts," explained Baird. "I haven't been worried about riding a lot because I have been involved with family matters since my dad's passing. But now I'm gearing up. I was without an agent to start this meet but now I've hired Penny Ffitch-Heyes to take over my business," Baird concluded.
"I'm thrilled to add E. T. to our team," stated Ffitch-Heyes, with conviction. "I also represent another great rider, Jesse Campbell, and now, as a three-person team, we can work together and all benefit in ways we could not have before."
Trainer Larry Rivelli added, "The Fabers of Dare to Dream Stable and I have always supported E. T. With Nicole's Dream coming back to race, E. T. will be on her wherever she goes, as he has before. No one fits her better."