04/10/2006 12:00AM

Zimmerman, trainer, dead


Trainer John Charles Zimmerman was found dead in his home in Aventura, Fla., on Sunday morning, according to Gulfstream Park officials. A native of Palmyra, Pa., Zimmerman was 46 years old. An autopsy into the cause of death was pending.

Zimmerman began his racetrack career right out of high school at Penn National racetrack in 1977. Zimmerman had 24 horses stabled at Gulfstream at the time of his death, with strings also stabled at Penn National and Delaware Park.

Zimmerman was spending his third winter as a regular at Gulfstream and had won 13 races during the meet. He was scheduled to send out the 8-year-old Procreate as the likely favorite in defense of his title in next Saturday's $50,000 Yankee Affair Stakes. Procreate was credited with a world record when he ran five furlongs in 53.79 seconds over the Gulfstream turf course winning the 2005 Yankee Affair.

Overall, Zimmerman won 1,469 races and had total purse earnings in excess of $14 million.

Zimmerman is survived by a daughter, Mallory, and two sons, Matt and Brett.