01/09/2014 12:04PM

Albert Coppola, owner of Runaway Groom, dies

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Albert Coppola Sr., a longtime owner and breeder whose greatest success came with 1982 Travers Stakes winner and Canadian champion Runaway Groom, died on Dec. 29 in Virginia. He was 89.

Coppola, an educator and education administrator, bought Runaway Groom, a Canadian-bred son of Blushing Groom, for $39,000 at the 1980 Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale. The colt would emerge during 1982 by winning the last two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes and the Breeders’ Stakes. That summer, he scored a memorable upset in the Travers over a field that included all three U.S. Triple Crown race winners from 1982: Gato del Sol, Aloma’s Ruler, and Conquistador Cielo. Runaway Groom would go on to receive the Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion 3-year-old male. He was retired to stud the next year and stood in several locations, siring 75 stakes winners, including champion Cherokee Run, before being pensioned at Vinery in Kentucky, where he died in 2007.

Coppola, whose family owned Drumlanrig Farm in Virginia, bred several stakes winners, including Grade 3 winner Air Rocket, out of a Runaway Groom mare. A veteran of World War II, he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the Blood-Horse reports. Coppola is survived by his wife Katherine, five children, Albert Jr., John, Maria, Katherine, and Valerie, 12 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.