South Florida thoroughbred trainer Manny Azpurua dies at 88

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) Manny Azpurua, a thoroughbred trainer who gained national attention while racing Social Inclusion in the 2014 Preakness Stakes, has died. He was 88.

Gulfstream Park officials say he died Tuesday at Florida Medical Center. No cause was given.

Azpurua had been a fixture on the South Florida racing scene since 1980. He saddled the last starter of his career at Gulfstream in April 2016.

He saddled several graded-stakes winners, including Weigelia and Nightmare Affair, who finished third in the 2006 Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Azpurua attracted national attention while racing Social Inclusion in 2014. The colt began his career with two straight wins, including a 10-length victory while breaking the Gulfstream track record for 1 1/16 miles with a 1:40.97 clocking. Social Inclusion went on to finish third in the Wood Memorial, third behind winner California Chrome in the Preakness and third in the Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Azpurua was part of a thoroughbred racing family. 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.

He is survived by his wife, Sonia, daughters, Teresa and Maria Margarita, and a son, Manuel, as well as 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 said. ''He's been the leader of the family for many, many years.''

Funeral arrangements were pending.

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