11/15/2014 12:07PM

Pinhooker Leppala dies at 62


Pinhooker Ricky Leppala, who sold notable horses such as Horse of the Year Favorite Trick, Grade 1 winner Delaware Township, and multiple stakes winner Reneesgotzip, died on Nov. 4 at his home in Ocala, Fla., of cancer. He was 62.

Leppala, a Michigan native, began his career in the horse business early, riding Quarter Horses at age 15. He rode for numerous Quarter Horse trainers before transitioning into training Thoroughbreds, based in the Ocala area. He soon developed a reputation as a developer of young talent.

Leppala started Favorite Trick, a son of Phone Trick, and sold him to Joseph Lacombe for $100,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. February selected sale of 2-year-olds in training; the colt would go on to post an undefeated 8-for-8 campaign in 1997 and receive Horse of the Year and champion juvenile male Eclipse honors.

Leppala bought Delaware Township for $27,000 as a 1997 OBS yearling, and pinhooked the Notebook colt at the OBS February sale to owner New Farm the next year for $110,000. Delaware Township was a four-time graded stakes winner, highlighted by Grade 1 scores in the Forego Handicap and Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash.

More recently, Leppala purchased Reneesgotzip for just $3,500 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale and sold her for $45,000 at the OBS spring sale of 2-year-olds in training to the Lanni Family Trust. The filly has won 8 of 16 starts and more than $869,000, including five stakes. She has competed in three consecutive editions of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, finishing third in 2012 and second in 2013. Other horses developed and/or sold by Leppala include Grade 2 winner Flamethrower and stakes winner and $700,000 earner Max’s Pal.

Leppala is survived by sons Hunter and Dalton; brothers Danny and Jimmy; nieces Alisa, Emily, and Mia; and his dog, Gauge.

A celebration of life for Leppala will be held on Nov. 23 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Pavilion, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern.