Hall of Fame Steeplechaser Zaccio Dead

Hall of Fame Steeplechaser Zaccio Dead
Photo: Barbara D. Livingston

Edited from Steeplechase Times

Zaccio, winner of three consecutive Eclipse Awards as champion steeplechaser and a member of racing's Hall of Fame, was euthanized Sept. 19 because of complications from the infirmities of old age. The Lorenzaccio gelding was 31.

Trained by Hall of Famer W. Burling "Burley" Cocks for owner Mrs. Lewis C. Murdock, Zaccio won 22 of 42 races and earned $288,124. He started his hurdling career early, winning four steeplechases as a 3-year-old in 1979, and then went on a three-year tear that saw him win 14 jump races (and three Eclipse awards) from 1980 to 1982.

"His greatest strength was his heart, determination, and his will to win," said former jockey Gregg Morris. "He was a real street fighter who loved to duke it out with another horse; that was when he was at his best. I don't think he ever lost when he got in a fight."

Zaccio twice won the Colonial Cup International Steeplechase and New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase Handicap, carrying 160 pounds or more in three of those runnings.

Bred in Kentucky by Blue Bear Stud, Zaccio was bred to be a good one. Lorenzaccio was one of two horses to beat the great Nijinsky II, doing so in the 1970 Champion Stakes in England. Zaccio's dam, Delray Dancer, was by U.S. champion Chateaugay and her second dam was champion Parlo, who also was the granddam of 1969 Horse of the Year Arts and Letters.

Zaccio retired as the sport's all-time leading earner, surpassing the legendary Neji, whose mark had stood for more than two decades. Zaccio joined his trainer and Neji in the Hall of Fame in 1990.

"He was a strong-minded and strong-willed horse," said Lisa Podraza, who cared for Zaccio at the Murdocks' farm near Peapack, N.J. "Mr. Murdock rode him for the first five years or so after he retired and hunted him until he was about 20. He would always return with plenty of horse after a day of hunting; he just wouldn't stop."

Zaccio was buried on the property.

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