When Robert Barbara was a 10-year-old growing up in Canarsie, N.Y., a Brooklyn neighborhood that borders Jamaica Bay, his teenaged brother bought a horse to ride at a nearby stable in Mill Basin.
Before long, it was the younger brother who had taken his place in the saddle. His talent evident, Barbara was soon competing at the riding academy’s shows, and within two years, he said, “I had more blue ribbons than you could shake a stick at.”
By the time he was 15 he was on racehorses, taking them to the beach at low tide for quarter-mile races, and it was there that a local trainer spotted him.
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