01/15/2008 1:00AM

Trainer Callejas dies at 71

Email

Alfredo Callejas, who trained horses in New York for nearly a quarter-century before retiring in 2004, died at his home in Beverly Hills, Fla. last Saturday. He was 71.

A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Callejas began his career as an assistant trainer for his father at age 16, and started training on his own five years later.

Callejas came to the United States at the request of fellow countryman and colorful horse owner Robert Perez. Their best horse was Cupecoy's Joy, a speedy filly who in 1982 won the Acorn and Mother Goose, and also set the pace for six furlongs in the Kentucky Derby.

Other well-known horses campaigned by Perez and Callejas were Senor Speedy, a multiple stakes winner whose three consecutive starts in the Breeders' Cup Sprint included a fourth-place finish in 1991; El Bakan, the third-place finisher in the 1993 Preakness; and Pacific Fleet, winner of the 1997 Westchester Handicap.

Callejas enjoyed his best year in 1997, when he saddled 29 winners from 291 starters, for earnings of more than $1.1 million. Callejas-trained horses won 198 races and more than $8.8 million at U.S. tracks from 1980-2004.

Callejas is survived by his wife, Lillian; sons Bernardo (a Belmont Park-based trainer) and Claudio; and grandsons Camila and Matias.