Trainer, former jockey, and jockey agent Al Scotti, 86, died March 30 after battling cancer for a number of years.
The native of Brooklyn, N.Y., was a jockey for three years, breaking his maiden at Narragansett Park in 1945 and becoming the leading apprentice rider at Rockingham and Monmouth Park in 1946. He stopped riding because controlling his weight became too hard.
Scotti moved on to training and had particularly good success with south Florida owner Neil Hellman. They led the owner/trainer standings with 19 winners at Hialeah Park in 1968. Their win rate during that meet was better than 50%, according to a Miami News article published on July 11, 1972.
Perhaps his best runner was multiple graded stakes winner Linda's Chief, who he raced in 1972 and part of 1973. The colt, a Hellman homebred by Chieftan out of Dream Path, was one of the best 2-year-olds in the country at the time.
At 2, he won the Youthful Stakes, Juvenile Stakes, and Tremont Stakes and placed second in the Sanford Stakes, three lengths behind Secretariat. At 3, Linda's Chief won the Pontiac Grand Prix Stakes and Saranac Stakes (both gr. II) for Scotti before being shipped to California to Bobby Frankel's barn. The colt would go on to win the San Jacinto Stakes (gr. II) , San Felipe Handicap (gr. II), California Derby (gr. II), and Withers Stakes (gr. II). He finished second in the grade I Santa Anita Derby to Sham.
Linda's Chief retired with $490,571 in earnings, having won 15 times out of 30 starts, and was in the money 24 times.
Scotti also conditioned Vent du Nord, winner of the 1969 Canadian International Championship Stakes at Woodbine and the leading money-winner at Hialeah in 1970. The son of Vandale, out of La Caravelle, won Palm Beach Handicap, the Bougainvillea Handicap, and the Hialeah Turf Cup in 1970.
Scotti also served as the jockey agent for his nephew Mike Venezia, who was one of the hottest apprentice riders in 1964 with 192 winners. Venezia died in 1988 after falling from a horse at Belmont Park.
A memorial service for Scotti will be held April 15 at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Victory Church in Floral Park, N.Y., according to friends.