02/07/2013 4:13PM

Aqueduct: Contessa wins 2,000th career race

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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.

Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
It's hard to understand how a guy who has won 2000 races in his career has dropped off the radar the last couple of years. The Contessa barn is colder than a married woman this meet where as in previous Aqueduct winter meets he would have forty winners by now. Did he forget how to get horses ready overnight? And why do people like Winning Move Stable gravitate from Gary Contessa to David Jacobson? Betcha Mr. Contessa doesn't get to 2100 in this decade!
Gary Contessa More than 1 year ago
Bruce I RARELY reply to negativity but thought I would make an exception. In this game you are only as good as your horses and at this time I do not have the strength I once had. You are right I may never reach 2100 wins but I will always be one of only 89 trainers to reach 2000. I consider myself blessed to have even participated in this game and cherish every milestone I have reached. We do not know each other so I am a little confused as to why you would choose this moment to try to create negativity with me. I do not believe I have ever done any harm to you or your family and I am sorry if I have. Remember this when you give negativity you receive negativity in your own life. I have been blessed in both this business and with a wonderful family and hope that you can one day find that happiness as well.
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
Thank-you for your reply Mr. Contessa, I have obviously upset you with my remarks and I apologize. As a racing who has supported the sport for over 40 years I was compelled to call you partly due to your stables performance over the last couple years. I understand your position currently not having much stock to be overly competitive but in previous years you were an active claimer who could take one and turn him around in a short period of time. You were consistently attracting new clients due to the success of your barn. Along comes Rudy R who can claim a goat on Wednesday and win an entry level allowance race with him on Friday or D. Jacobson who seems to be the King of the Claimers currently and all of a sudden you fall off the radar. I have also noticed several of your previous clients now residing in other barns, did they get tired of winning too much or something? It just doesn't seem right that your winning per centage has tanked recently for a guy with as much passion for the game as you have. Thanks again for your responce Sir, I do admire your carreer and should we cross paths at Saratoga this summer I will apologize in person.
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
Seems things are turning around for you nicely Mr. Contessa, I am glad for you and hope you keep it up. I was obviously mistaken about reaching 2100 this decade, if you keep up the recent streak you'll probably do it this year. Congradualations on an outstanding career.