01/28/2012 3:37PM

Trainer Mike Tammaro dead at age 57


Mike Tammaro, a fixture at Turfway Park and River Downs for the last two decades and whose family is well known in the East and beyond for their work as Thoroughbred horsemen, died Friday at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood, Ky., after suffering a massive heart attack at his home in Florence. He was 57.

Tammaro started his training career in 1975 and won with 930 of 8,380 starters for stable earnings of more than $17 million.

Tammaro’s sister and longtime business partner, Cathy, said the body has been cremated. There will be a memorial service Thursday at Turfway Park at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Tammaro was the son of John Tammaro, Sr., who died in south Florida in 2001 while still active as a trainer. The elder Tammaro was the trainer of Eclipse winner and eventual top sire Deputy Minister and was known for his work alongside rival trainers King Leatherbury, Dickie Dutrow, and Bud Delp in Maryland in the 1970’s.

John Tammaro 3rd, Mike’s brother, remains active as a trainer on the East Coast and has won more than 1,450 races. Dean Sarvis, the son of one of Mike and John 3rd’s five sisters, is a veteran jockey of the Kentucky-Ohio circuit.

Mike Tammaro spent 15 years training in Canada before coming to Kentucky in 1991, and he was the leading trainer at Turfway's winter-spring meet in 1992 and 1993. His top client was the Mereworth Farm of the late Susan Donaldson. He was down to four horses at the time of his death, said Cathy Tammaro. He had suffered for weeks from pneumonia before suffering the heart attack that proved fatal.