Neither Baptista nor Caibett came to the U.S. for the race; they were represented here by Baptista's 18-year-old son. In Caracas Baptista said he was offered the equivalent of half a million dollars for the horse 10 minutes after the Derby was over. Extravagant, perhaps, but perfectly in fitting with Derby Day 1971. Canonero II's winning purse was $145,500, richest in Derby history. The crowd of 123,284 was the largest ever to see a horse race in the U.S., and it wagered $2,648,139 on the Derby, the most ever bet on a single race at a track anywhere. In New York City, where off-track betting on the Derby became epidemic, more than $1 million came in. Because Canonero II was a field horse at Louisville, bargain hunters who liked the idea of getting six horses for the price of one beat his odds down to less than 9 to 1, and the payoff for $2 was thus a modest $19.40. But in New York, where each horse was a separate betting interest, Canonero II paid a more fitting $59, although his near 30-to-1 odds still seemed surprisingly low.
At the track's party for the winner, the exuberant Latin personalities of Pedro Baptista Jr. and the others of his group were much in evidence, although English was sparse and interpreters at a premium. Everyone wanted to know everything there was to know about the horse, and the many Spanish-speaking jockeys present were interviewed as they have seldom been before. Were they happy to see a fellow Latin jockey win? "Not particularly," said Laffit Pincay. "The only Latin jockey I wanted to see win was me."
Canonero's trainer, 31-year-old Juan Arias, was more diplomatic. Asked if he had his horse on some special diet, Arias replied graciously, "The best diet for him was being able to come back home to race in his native Kentucky."
Viva Arias! Viva Venezuela! Viva Canonero II!