Trainer Profile: Gary Contessa

Trainer Gary Contessa

Gary Contessa was born in 1957 in Merrick, New York. He climbed the fence at Roosevelt Raceway as an 8-year-old and fell in love with horses and racing. Contessa became a professional trainer in 1984, and he’s shown a keen and savvy ability to spy a talented 2-year-old horse and develop it to bring out that colt or filly’s inner racehorse.

A 2012 ranking in Market Watch, published by The Blood-Horse named Gary Contessa second in the world—-and first of all Thoroughbred trainers, over the last 15 years in return on investment (ROI) for Thoroughbreds purchased at two-year-old in training sales.

Contessa was the New York Racing Association (NYRA) Trainer of the Year in 2006 and 2007, and he led all NYRA trainers in wins from 2006-2008. In 2013, Contessa won his 2,000th race, and in 2014, Gary saddled Uncle Sigh in the Kentucky Derby.

For over a decade, Gary resold more than 40 two-year-old’s for substantial profits for their owners starting in 2002. That includes Peace Rules, a $35,000 purchase who went on to run 3rd in the 2003 Kentucky Derby.

Contessa has built a reputation as not only a trainer with a canny ability to identify and develop young horses, but a trainer who communicates and cares for his horses and team. The ‘Fun Factor’ is a key ingredient of Gary Contessa Racing Stable, and his interest in the industry and charting the best course for a horse regardless of purse size has earned him many accolades. 

The outspoken trainer has also served faithfully as President of the Exceller Fund for several years with a mission to provide a future past the finish line for thoroughbred horses.