Trainer Rene Araya Dies at 73
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Trainer Rene Araya

Multiple graded stakes-winning trainer Rene Araya, a veteran on the New York Racing Association circuit, died Jan. 26 in Florida at the age of 73.

A longtime resident of Floral Park, N.Y., Araya began his career in horse racing working for Maryland-based trainers Jack Weipert and Pedro Biones before taking out his trainer's license in 1985. He trained throughout the Mid-Atlantic circuit and became a regular at NYRA tracks in 1992.

Araya saddled 354 winners with career earnings of more than $9.8 million during his 31-year career, including his last with General Sham'mah in July of 2016 at Gulfstream Park.

A native of Chile, Araya saddled former claimer McKaymackenna to seven stakes victories, including a pair of grade 3 wins in 1993, the Beaugay Handicap and Noble Damsel. He also trained Nappelon, winner of the 1995 Comely (G2), who Araya claimed for $35,000 earlier that year, as well as stakes winners T Storm, Textbook Method, and Standswithafist.

Araya briefly retired in 2004 and worked as a jockey's agent before returning to training the following year. He also took a three-year hiatus from 2008-11. In 2015, he relocated his stable to South Florida.

"Rene was a great guy," said owner Paul Pompa Jr., who teamed up with Araya to win the 2002 Yaddo at Saratoga Race Course with Textbook Method. "He was a terrific human being. When I started (owning horses), he was my first trainer. It's so overwhelming when you become an owner, you need to have somebody explain everything and teach you what to do, and Rene was so special. He basically tried his best to explain how to run horses, raise them in class, drop them in class.

"There's so much to learn and he was such a gentleman. In the first year, I probably called him once a day, twice a day, and he never got frustrated. He was always so kind and he educated me a lot. He was always upbeat. He had the enthusiasm of a 30-year-old, which is a great quality to have. He had a lovely, lovely family and they all became good friends with my family."

Araya is survived by his wife Gloria, daughters Carmen and Elba, and son Ricardo. Arrangements for a memorial service in New York will be announced by the Araya family at a later date.

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