by Pat McKenna
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) mourns the loss of Carmen Barrera, the longtime director of horsemen's relations, who died unexpectedly today in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. She was 60.
Barrera joined NYRA in 1978, the same year that her uncle Laz Barrera campaigned Affirmed to the Triple Crown and was a valued employee and familiar presence at all NYRA tracks since that time. Her father, Luis, was a trainer as well, campaigning Summing to victory in the 1981 Belmont Stakes. And her cousin, Juan Dominguez is NYRA's racing facilities coordinator.
“Carmen Barrera was a helping hand and guiding light for countless horsemen, guests and employees for the last four decades,” said NYRA Board of Directors Chairman Michael Del Giudice. “Carmen was a special part of the fabric of racing in New York, and she will be missed deeply.”
Barrera was understandably proud of her family's connections to racing. Asked last year to pick her most memorable Belmont Stakes, she answered, "How can I pick just one?"
"In 1978, my uncle Laz won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown with Affirmed," she said. "And three years later, in 1981, my father Luis, won the Belmont Stakes with Summing. I was so proud of my dad that day: Summing ended Pleasant Colony's Triple Crown bid and George Martens rode a great race. The Belmont was the Triple Crown race my father had wanted to win because it was our home track."
In remembrance of Barrera, NYRA today held a moment of silence for her following the second race at Saratoga Race Course as employees gathered in the Winner's Circle.
Barrera began her career at NYRA in guest services as a white cap before moving to horsemen's relations. She spent 41 years at NYRA in total.