Retired New York trainer Richard O'Connell, who conditioned millionaires Capades and Thunder Rumble, died Feb. 29 from complications of pneumonia after a long battle with an unspecified blood disorder. He was 54.
Born in Brooklyn, O'Connell served as a hot walker during summer vacations from college for trainer Peter Howe. After graduation, he taught high school for a year before taking out his trainer's license in 1978.
Both Thunder Rumble and Capades were grade I winners. Thunder Rumble captured the 1992 Travers (gr. I) and Jim Dandy (gr. II) Stakes at Saratoga and returned the following year to win the Saratoga Cup Handicap. Capades scored her grade I win in the 1988 Selima Stakes (gr. I) in Laurel and won five other graded stakes.
O'Connell was voted the New York Thoroughbred Breeder's Trainer of the Year in 1988, 1989, and 1990. His other stakes winners included Congeleur, Grand Continental, and Wanderkin.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association.