01/23/2004 1:00AM

Tony Basile, trainer, dead


Tony Basile, who trained the powerful Bwamazon Farm stable during the farm's glory years in Kentucky in the 1970's and early 1980's, died Thursday at Hollywood Medical Center in Hollywood, Fla., after suffering from pneumonia. He was 82.

Bwamazon, owned by the late Millard Waldheim, was a major force at Keeneland during its heyday, winning eight stakes while perennially contending for leading owner. The stable was known for its precocious 2-year-olds, with many developing into graded stakes winners, including Coraggioso, T.V. Commercial, It's Freezing, Raised Socially, Highland Park, Old Goat, and Bundler. Bundler's feats included a win over champion Chris Evert in the 1973 Frizette at Belmont.

Basile's first major win for Bwamazon came in the 1967 Arlington-Washington Futurity with T.V. Commercial. Basile was the leading trainer at Keeneland at the 1974 and 1979 spring meets. He won 12 stakes at Churchill Downs.

After Waldheim died in 1983, Bwamazon became a bit player in the racing industry, and Basile opened a public stable that had only moderate success. He retired in 1997.

Basile, who even in retirement was a daily fixture during the Keeneland race meets, is survived by his wife, Sheila, four daughters, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were being handled by R.W. Milwards on Broadway in Lexington, Ky.