Updated on 09/16/2011 8:57AM

Moschera quits game after 25 years

Benoit & Associates
"It used to be when I claimed 10 horses, maybe you'd get one sore one, two sore ones. Now, maybe out of 50 horses, 45 were no good. They wouldn't train, they wouldn't run. They kept deteriorating." - Trainer Gasper Moschera

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - For the majority of the 1990's, one couldn't discuss New York racing without bringing up the name Gasper Moschera. The former carpet store owner was the New York Racing Association circuit's leading trainer from 1993 through 1998.

But as the new century dawned, Moschera, one of the sharpest claiming trainers in the game, began to fade from the top of the leader board. Now, he has vanished entirely from the Belmont Park backstretch, giving up the game last week after a training career of 25 years. Moschera, 60, said he plans to sell his Floral Park home and move to south Florida. The two horses he had in training have been transferred to Mitch Friedman.

Moschera's business has been in steady decline the last several years. From 1992 to 1998, Moschera averaged 100 wins a year. From 1999 to 2002, he averaged 23 wins a year. In 2002, he won just eight races from 59 starters. His last win came on Aug. 22 at Saratoga with Bar Fly. Since then, he started only six horses.

Moschera traces the beginning of his decline to 1995, when New York became the last racing jurisdiction to permit the use of the anti-bleeding medication Lasix. He said he believes that Lasix, a diuretic, helps mask illegal medications, a development he contends other horsemen have taken advantage of.

"The Lasix was a problem for me," said Moschera. "I didn't want it, but they didn't take a vote on it. There's a lot of [trainers] that win, that didn't win before. I used to run a horse that was 3-5 or 4-5 or 1-2 and you had to beat that horse. Today, it's not like that anymore.'

Moschera, who won 10 Aqueduct training titles and two at Belmont, said he has seen a big difference in the health of the horses he and his primary owner, Barbara Davis, have claimed over the years. "Anything that I claimed in the last couple of years outside of maybe one or two horses, they were broken bones,' Moschera said. "I had to sell them. Most of them, I didn't have a chance to run. It used to be when I claimed 10 horses, maybe you'd get one sore one, two sore ones. Now, maybe out of 50 horses, 45 were no good. Barbara kept putting up money, and they wouldn't train, they wouldn't run. They kept deteriorating.

"It's like I don't know what I'm doing anymore. I'm shelling out all my cash; I have no cash left. I was working just to make payroll and every other bill. I said, that's it. My wife said, 'You're the only one that goes to work and doesn't make money.' '

When Moschera was winning all those races in the 1990's, rumors swirled that he was using illegal substances on his horses, although he never had a drug positive, according to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

Moschera won 1,547 races from 8,908 starts, according to Daily Racing Form statistics. He said there was ample opportunity for authorities to catch him if he had been cheating.

"Surely they would have caught me if I was using something,' he said. "I never had a positive; that has to say something. I didn't learn this game with drugs and I never got involved with drugs.'

Moschera got into the game in the 1970's as an assistant for Floreano Fernandez before going out on his own in 1977. Moschera trained almost exclusively for Long Island contractor Albert Davis and his daughter Barbara. In 1985, Moschera claimed Videogenic for $100,000, and the horse went on to win $1.5 million and 11 stakes, including the Grade 1 Ladies and Santa Ana handicaps.

Other stakes winners trained by Moschera include Moro, Mr. Sinatra, Iron Gavel, More to Tell, Royal Haven, Divulge, May I Inquire, and Fabersham.

Moschera, a carpenter by trade, said he would not rule out returning.

"Maybe I'll be back,' he said. "The way I feel now is I don't want to be involved with horses. Who knows in a year or two? Maybe, I'll just own horses and give them to somebody to train. The game is a good game. New York was just hay, oats, and water, and it's not like that anymore. That's the problem.'

Moschera's departure from the game comes less than two years after Peter Ferriola, another highly successful claiming trainer, quit. Ferriola, who is two months younger than Moschera, was the NYRA's leading trainer in 1987, 1991, and 1992 and won nine Aqueduct and two Belmont training titles from 1985-92. Ferriola now resides in central Florida.

Gary Contessa, the leading trainer of Aqueduct's winter meet, said losing a trainer of Moschera's stature should serve as a wake-up call for all horsemen.

"The thing that comes to mind when I hear that Gasper Moschera is out of the game is how easily it could be me,' Contessa said. "It makes everybody think real hard how tough this business really is. I know it could happen to me so it makes me wake up in the morning and try that much harder.'