Jerry Bozzo and jockey Miguel Vasquez celebrate the win

Jerry Bozzo and jockey Miguel Vasquez celebrate the win

Coglianese Photo/Lauren King

Jerry Bozzo Becomes Oldest Trainer to Win a Race

The 96-year-old trainer saddled Cotton Tooyah to a win at Gulfstream Park June 3.

Nonagenarian Jerry Bozzo became the oldest U.S. Thoroughbred trainer to win a flat race June 3, when he sent out Cotton Tooyah for a 4 1/2-length victory in the second race at Gulfstream Park.

Still actively training a small stable at the age of 96, Bozzo surpassed the record of the late Noble Threewitt, who visited the winner's circle for the last time two months after celebrating his 95th birthday. Threewitt, who was born Feb. 24, 1911, was credited with being the oldest trainer to win a race when Threeatonce captured a maiden claiming race at Santa Anita Park April 22, 2006.

"People say to me, 'What the heck are you doing out there at that age, standing at the rail?'" Bozzo said. "I'm enjoying it. That's why I'm doing it."

A graduate of Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bozzo celebrated his 96th birthday Oct. 25.

The retired aeronautical engineer, industrialist, and World War II veteran sold his Pennsylvania bottle manufacturing company in 1969. He has been breeding and training Thoroughbreds in South Florida since the 1970s.

Ridden by jockey Miguel Vasquez, Cotton Tooyah rallied from far off the pace to score decisively in the six-furlong maiden race for $20,000 claimers on a sloppy main track. Bred by Ocala Stud, the 3-year-old High Cotton  filly races in the colors of her trainer. 

Bozzo is also the oldest trainer ever to saddle a stakes winner. Homebred Flutterby won the 2015 Sea Lily Handicap at Gulfstream before she finished second in the Princess Rooney Stakes (G2) and won two more stakes.

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Bozzo said his passion for horses has only deepened with age.

"I feel like I'm almost related to the horses. It feels so natural to be around them," Bozzo said. "I want to be around them."