Horse Racing

96-year-old South Florida man makes horse racing history

Jerry Bozzo fist bumps Miguel Vasquez.
Jerry Bozzo fist bumps Miguel Vasquez. Gulfstream Park

A 96-year-old South Florida man made history Saturday when he became the oldest trainer to win a thoroughbred race.

Jerry Bozzo earned the distinction when Cotton Tooyah won the second race on Saturday by 4 1/2 lengths at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach.

A retired aeronautical engineer and World War II veteran, Bozzo has been breeding and training thoroughbreds in South Florida since the 1970s. He still actively trains a small stable.

“People say to me, ‘What the heck are you doing out there at that age, standing at the rail?’” Bozzo said in a statement from Gulfstream Park. “I’m enjoying it — that’s why I’m doing it.”

The nonagenarian said his passion for horse racing has only increased with age.

“I feel like I’m almost related to the horses. It feels so natural to be around them,” Bozzo said. “I want to be around them.”

Bozzo celebrated his 96th birthday last October, making him a year older than the previous record-holder. The late Noble Threewitt was credited with being the oldest trainer to win a race in 2006 when Threeatonce won at the Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, two months after Noble’s 95th birthday, according to Gulfstream Park.

In Saturday’s race, Cotton Tooyah was ridden by jockey Miguel Vasquez.