06/28/2011 1:00PM

Joseph Cornacchia, co-owner of two Derby winners, dead at age 78

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Joseph M. Cornacchia, co-owner of Kentucky Derby winners Strike the Gold and Go For Gin, and a former member of the New York Racing Association’s Board of Directors, died Sunday at age 78.

A native New Yorker, Cornacchia was a second generation printer for 30 years in Manhattan’s East Village, where he manufactured the game boards and pieces for Deluxe Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit. When Trival Pursuit was purchased by Coleco, Cornacchia formed a new company, The James Gang, and marketed the game Pictionary, which sold 20 million copies.

Though he partnered with B. Giles Brophy and William Condren to buy Strike the Gold as a 2-year-old, and later partnered with Condren to buy Go For Gin and Preakness winner Louis Quatorze, Cornacchia called winning the Daryl’s Joy (with Pride of Summer in 1995) with 12 of his friends – known as TOC Stable – his most exciting moment in racing.

Cornacchia was appointed to the NYRA Board in September 1998 by then-New York Gov. George Pataki, and served through September 2008.
“Joe Cornacchia was a thoughtful and caring man who had a deep love for horse racing,” said NYRA Chairman Steven Duncker. “He had an incredible business acumen, which he displayed in both the board game industry and in winning three prestigious Triple Crown races.”

Cornacchia is survived by his wife, Eileen, sons Jim and Brian, stepson Ryan, daughter-in-law Amanda, and grandchildren Colin and Caitlin.

Gus Maestrales More than 1 year ago
I was Joe's personal pilot for 10 years and he helped me dearly in my aviation career. I lost touch with Mr. Cornacchia about 15 years ago and I'm sad that this is the first that I heard of his death. He loved his jet planes and we became partners in our first jet after only one flight in my Cessna 402 to Ocala to look at a horse he wanted to buy. We went on to buy another 5 jets together. God Bless you Mr. Joseph Cornacchia and thank you so much. Love always Captain Gus Maestrales.