From Gulfstream Park
Manny Azpurua, a successful and popular thoroughbred trainer in Venezuela and later in South Florida, passed away Tuesday at Florida Medical Center.
He was 88, and was a native of Caracas, Venezuela. He started the last horse of his training career at Gulfstream Park on April 29, 2016.
Mr. Azpurua is survived by his wife, Sonia, two daughters, Teresa and Maria Margarita, and a son, Manuel. He also is survived by his brother Eduardo and nephews Eduardo Azpurua Jr. and Leo Azpurua Jr., who are both trainers.
“He truly loved the experience of training horses in this great country and getting the support of his clients he had over the years,” Leo Azpurua Jr. said. “I will deeply miss him. He’s been the leader of the family for many, many years.”
Mr. Azpurua saddled several graded-stakes winners, including 2006 Smile Sprint (Grade 2) winner and Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Grade 1) third-place finisher Nightmare Affair and 2004 Carry Back (Grade 3) victor Weigela.
He attracted the most national attention while campaigning Social Inclusion in 2014. Social Inclusion began his career with two straight victories, including a 10-length allowance triumph over Honor Code while breaking the Gulfstream track record for 1 1/16 miles with a 1:40.97 clocking.
The son of Pioneer of the Nile went on to finish third in the Wood Memorial (Grade 1) and third behind California Chrome in the Preakness Stakes (Grade 1).
Mr. Azpurua was born into a thoroughbred racing family in Venezuela, where his father, Manuel Azpurua, was a prominent owner and a founding member of the country’s Jockey Club, as well as a director of El Paraiso Racetrack.
His brothers, Leo and Eduardo, were also trainers. After saddling more than 3,500 winners in Venezuela, Azpurua followed his brothers to South Florida to pursue a training career that would yield 984 winners.