01/10/2012 12:38PM

Santa Anita: Funeral plans set for Cenicola

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Benoit & Associates
Lewis Cenicola

ARCADIA, Calif. - A funeral mass for Lewis Cenicola, who died Sunday night from cancer, will be held Thursday at 1 p.m. at Saint Rita of Cascia, 318 N. Baldwin Ave, in nearby Sierra Madre, according to his widow, Donna.

A reception will follow, beginning at 2:30, at the banquet room of the Santa Anita Golf Course, 405 S. Santa Anita Ave., in Arcadia.

A rosary also was scheduled for Cenicola on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Douglass and Zook Chapel of Remembrance Funeral Home, 600 E. Foothill Blvd., in Monrovia.

Cenicola was a jockey and trainer but was best known as the exercise rider for two-time Horse of the Year John Henry. He was 66.

Cenicola was part of an entourage with John Henry that included Ron McAnally, the Hall of Fame trainer, assistant Eduardo Inda, and groom Jose Mercado. They sent out John Henry to Horse of the Year titles in 1981 and again in 1984, when John Henry was age 9. A colorful, entertaining character, Cenicola called John Henry "Papi," and would frequently sing "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" while en route to the track atop John Henry.

In lieu of flowers, Donna Cenicola has asked that donations be made in her late husband's name to Winner's Circle Ranch, 150 Sawpit Lane, Bradbury, Calif., 91008. Winner's Circle Ranch, run by Leigh Gray, provides care and rehabilitation to injured racehorses.