01/10/2013 5:12PM

Aqueduct: Contessa, nearing win 2,000, wants to be on hand for milestone

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Gary Contessa recorded win number 1,000 on Oct. 24, 2004, at Belmont Park with a horse named Successfully Sweet.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Gary Contessa doesn’t remember where he was or with which horse he recorded his 1,000th career victory. He doesn’t plan to make the same mistake when career win 2,000 comes along.

Contessa, who recorded his first career victory in 1985, entered Friday’s racing at Aqueduct with 1,993 career wins. He believes 2,000 is a significant milestone.

“It means a lot, it’s huge,” Contessa said Thursday morning at Belmont Park. “When I won my 1,000th race I have no idea where I was, what track I was at. Nobody made a big deal about it. I don’t remember anybody acknowledging 1,000 wins back then.”

For the record, Contessa recorded win number 1,000 on Oct. 24, 2004, at Belmont Park with a horse named Successfully Sweet.

Contessa has horses stabled both in New York and in south Florida. He said he hopes to be present at whichever track – Aqueduct or Gulfstream – that milestone victory comes.

“I sure would like to be there, it’s really important to me,” Contessa said. “I think we put in a lot of hours to win 2,000 races, because we’ve always done it the hard way. We didn’t do it with a lot of stakes horses; we did it with a bunch of low-level claimers and bad maidens and everything else. I’m really looking forward to it and I really hope I’m there to acknowledge it.”

Contessa’s stable isn’t as big as it was a few years ago, when he was the leading trainer on the New York Racing Association circuit from 2006-09, including a NYRA record 159 wins in 2007.

Among his best horses currently in training is Rydilluc, a 3-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro who won a first-level turf allowance race at Gulfstream last Saturday by 5 3/4 lengths with a Beyer Speed Figure of 84. He is 2 for 2 on turf.

Contessa said a mid-range goal for Rydilluc is the Spiral Stakes on March 23. The Spiral is run over Turfway Park’s synthetic surface.

Contessa said should Rydilluc be successful in a race like the Spiral, he wouldn’t discount taking a swing at the Kentucky Derby. Rydilluc finished fifth, beaten 22 lengths by Delhomme, in his only dirt try.

“I kind of like turf, turf, turf, Poly and leave the door open for the Derby,” Contessa said. “He trains like a [good horse] on the dirt. I was very surprised how poorly he ran first time out, because he was training like he was going to win as handily as he did on the grass.”