John Mazza, who has been training horses at Monmouth Park for nearly 50 years, was presented with the 2012 Virgil "Buddy" Raines Distinguished Achievement Award Sept. 23.
Mazza joined a notable roster of past recipients whose conduct has been exemplary for professionalism, integrity, and service to Thoroughbred racing.
"I am honored and very proud to receive this award," said Mazza, who has trained horses for Holly Crest Farm and other stables in New Jersey for 46 years. "It is very meaningful to me."
Mazza, who was honored in winner's circle celebration after the fifth race at Monmouth, won the inaugural Thoroughbred race at the Meadowlands with Play the Palace in 1977. Over the decades he has trained at least 37 stakes winners.
Among them are 1988 Sorority Stakes winner Divine Answer and Great Navigator, who broke his maiden at Monmouth in 1992 and went on to win the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course. Capture the Gold was the star of his barn in 1997, taking stakes races at Monmouth and The Meadowlands that season. Mazza also saddled Carrots Only to victories in the 2005 Jersey Breeders' Handicap and the 2007 Charles Hesse III Handicap.
"John personifies what the Raines Award is all about," said Robert J. Kulina, president of Darby Development, which operates Monmouth Park. "For decades he has provided unwavering support for New Jersey racing and it's only fitting that he's honored with this prestigious acknowledgement of his service and dedication."
The late Buddy Raines, for whom the award is named, was one of racing's most venerable figures and was a Monmouth Park regular prior to his retirement. Raines trained horses for 65 years and won the 1962 Preakness Stakes with Greek Money.