Trainer and breeder Glenn DiSanto, a veteran of the New York Racing Association circuit for more than three decades, died Jan. 14 after a battle with cancer. He was 62.
DiSanto saddled his first winner as a trainer in 1985, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems records. He won his last race with the gelding Lotza Heat in 2015 at Belmont Park under the name of his Summit View Farm and Sportsmen Stable.
"I've known Glenn since I was a young man just galloping horses," said NYRA steward Braulio Baeza Jr. "He was a great guy. Even when he was sick, he always had a pleasant and good natured demeanor. Glenn was one of the nicest people and one of the few on the backstretch who would help you with whatever you needed in any way he could."
A native of Carmel, N.Y., DiSanto started in the business with show horses at West Creek Farm in Sharon Springs, where he began his involvement with the state breeding program. He then purchased Summit View Farm in Greenwich, N.Y., in 1984.
DiSanto was one of the pioneers in the use of the Oklahoma Training Track during the offseason at Saratoga Race Course, boarding mares at his farms and raising the foals, allowing him to either sell them at auction as yearlings or continue to train them for owners. In 2006, DiSanto had 45 foals at his farm.
Even when the number of foals decreased, DiSanto-trained horses earned more than $200,000 in four consecutive campaigns from 2011-2014. His two best statistical years as a trainer were 2006-07, when he won six races each of those years and a combined $542,787. In all, his horses won 52 races and placed 211 times out of 1,131 starts and earned nearly $2.6 million in purses.
DiSanto was also well known for his advocacy for retired Thoroughbred horses.
"He was a big supporter who did a lot for us," said Lisa Molloy, an executive director at Rerun Thoroughbred Adoption, a non-profit whose mission is to rehabilitate, retrain, and find adoptive homes for ex-racehorses when their careers on the track are over. "He would also tell people about the program. When his horses had finished running, he would take them home to live on his farm. Eventually he'd bring them over to ReRun, and he always liked to bring them himself. He was very hands-on.
"He was one of the best horsemen around," she added. "He never lost his temper with anything. He always knew what he was doing, and the animals just loved him."
Added Baeza: "Glenn took a lot of horses off of the racetrack, not to raise awareness to the public, but to help the horses themselves. He didn't do it for the publicity. He was a true champion for horses and he always had the horses' best interests at heart."
DiSanto, who graduated from the horse management program at the State University of New York at Cobleskill, is survived by his wife Melanie and sons Brett and Brendon.
"Some people wonder why I continue to get up at four in the morning for this," said DiSanto in a 2009 interview with the Saratogian. "Well, I've got a family to look out for. I think to be in this business you have to be hopeful and have to be optimistic. And if you love what you are doing, I guess it is not work."
Funeral arraignments will be announced by the DiSanto family at a later date.