02/23/2012 5:59PM

Laurel Park: Dale Capuano wins 3,000th race as trainer

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Trainer Dale Capuano won his 3,000th race on Thursday at Laurel Park.

Dale Capuano became the 27th trainer in North American racing history to win 3,000 races when he sent out Father Mudd to capture the ninth and last race Thursday at his home track, Laurel Park in Laurel, Md.

Capuano, 49, was greeted with signage and a special presentation in the Laurel winner’s circle following the two-length triumph by Father Mudd, a 4-year-old gelding bred and owned by Steven Newby. Kevin Navarro was aboard Father Mudd, who returned $12.40 as third choice in the $5,000 claiming sprint.

Capuano had gone winless with 12 starters since notching his 2,999th victory Feb. 15 at Laurel with Angels Concerto. Father Mudd was his last of three starters Thursday at Laurel.

Capuano grew up in Upper Marlboro, Md., and has been based primarily at Laurel for years, with the size of his stable usually necessitating a second string elsewhere, including the Bowie training center. Through the years, Capuano occasionally has taken a string of horses elsewhere for the winter, including Oaklawn Park and Gulfstream Park, and he also has raced regularly at neighboring states on the Eastern seaboard, primarily Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

But Maryland is where he estimates he has garnered perhaps 90 percent of his wins in more than 30 years of training, and it’s where he grew up watching his father, Phil, and late uncle, Louis, work with horses. Being a trainer is all Capuano ever wanted.

Capuano is the older brother of Gary Capuano, another Maryland trainer often noted for his work with Captain Bodgit, the 1997 Kentucky Derby runner-up. Gary Capuano also remains active in Maryland and has more than 960 wins to his credit.

“As kids, that’s all we ever wanted to do, be at the races,” Dale Capuano said. “Gary and I were 7 or 8, and we’d be out at the barn on the weekends and all through the summer. I got lucky the way it’s all worked out.”

Capuano began his career at age 18 in 1981, saddling his first winner at Bowie. He has gone on to be the leading trainer by wins in Maryland in eight calendar years, the latest being 2004, and has won a remarkable 31 training titles at Maryland tracks. He ranks Wind Splitter, his only Kentucky Derby starter (11th in 1989), among the best horses he trained, along with the millionaire turf sprinter Heros Reward.

“I’m just thankful to have had such great clients and terrific staff over the years,” Capuano said. “I guess you could compare it to being the conductor in an orchestra. There are a whole lot of very important people involved in the success of the entire operation.”

Capuano hitting the 3,000 mark came less than two weeks after Todd Pletcher became the 26th trainer to reach that milestone. Pletcher won his 3,000th on Feb. 11 at Gulfstream with Spring Hill Farm. The late Dale Baird is the all-time leading trainer with 9,445 wins.

Dale Capuano – Career Highlights

Born: Nov. 6, 1962, Washington, D.C.

Residence: Dayton, Md.

Family: Single

First win: Who’s Lucky, Bowie, 1981

1,000th win: Verdctium, Laurel, 1996

2,000th win: Miss Allison, Mountaineer, 2002

3,000th win: Father Mudd, Feb. 23, 2012

Leading trainer, Maryland tracks: 1991, 1997, 1998, 2000-04.

Training titles, Maryland tracks: 31

Graded stakes winners:
♦ Heros Reward: Grade 3 Shakertown, Keeneland, 2009; Grade 3 Highlander, Woodbine, 2008; Grade 2 Nearctic, Woodbine, 2007
♦ Ryan’s for Real: Grade 3 Hartack Memorial, Hawthorne 2008
Greatsilverfleet: Essex Handicap, Oaklawn, 1994
Prized Stamp: Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie, Laurel, 2001