02/07/2013 5:13PM

Aqueduct: Contessa wins 2,000th career race

Email
Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Gary Contessa, second from right, was presented with a placard and a commemorative plate after winning his 2,000th race on Thursday.

Gary Contessa became the 89th trainer to win at least 2,000 races when Al’s Rosie rallied ($9.70) along the rail to win Thursday’s seventh race at Aqueduct.

Contessa, 55, won his first race at Monmouth Park in 1985 with Legendary Wealth.

“I can’t believe I won 2,000 races,” Contessa said in the winner’s circle standing alongside his wife Jennifer.

Contessa said he received a call in the summer of 2011 from Rick Lang, the former handicapper for the New York Post, telling him he had more than 1,900 victories. Contessa said he asked Lang, “When did I win my 1,000th? . . . It’s a great milestone. I’m really honored and humbled to win 2,000 races.”

Contessa worked as an assistant to Stan Hough, Jimmy Picou, and Frank Martin before going out on his own in the mid-1980s.

“Frank Martin beat the daylights out of me and made a horse trainer out of me,” Contessa said.

Contessa was the leading trainer on the New York Racing circuit for four consecutive years from 2006-09. In 2007, he won a NYRA record 159 races, breaking the mark of 156 held by Martin.

Contessa’s most prestigious victory came in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland in 1991 with Do It With Style.