06/06/2012 2:15PM

Lone Star Park: Long-time trainer Gilbert Ciavaglia dies at 73


Gilbert Ciavaglia, a trainer for more than 45 years, died Tuesday night at a Houston hospital due to complications from leukemia, according to his wife, Nancy. He was 73. Ciavaglia had battled leukemia the past four years, but had been active at Lone Star this meet and won with his final starter as a trainer, Seeking West, on May 25. Overall, Ciavaglia was 5 for 12 this meet at Lone Star.

Ciavaglia was born in Providence, R.I., but moved to Texas at the age of 4 and as a young man owned a service station with his father, said Nancy Ciavaglia. He turned to a training career at 25, and raced at tracks throughout North America and Canada.

“We met a lot of people, went a lot of places,” said Nancy Ciavaglia. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Among the stakes horses Ciavaglia trained were Hill Pass, who spent some time on the Kentucky Derby trail in 1992 when third in the Louisiana Derby and fourth in the Lexington, and Gimme Glory, a multiple stakes winner at 2 who also ran second in the Grade 2 Arlington-Washington Futurity in 1993.

Nancy Ciavaglia, who celebrated 53 years of marriage to Gilbert Ciavaglia on May 10, said arrangements are being handled by Hannigan Smith Funeral Home in Athens, Texas. She hopes to schedule a service for Monday.

In addition to his wife, Ciavaglia is survived by a number of close nieces and nephews. He spent the past 20 years as a regular on the racing circuits in Texas and Louisiana.