Accomplished trainer James “Jimmy” Picou died Friday in South Florida following a long illness. One of 16 children born to Cajun parents in Southeast Texas, Picou got his start in racing as a jockey in 1949 before a training career that spanned 45 years. Based in New York and Florida, he conditioned runners for the likes of Fred Hooper, saddling 422 North American winners with earnings in excess of $15 million before retiring in 2004 at the age of 70. Picou’s standout trainees included 1981 GI Travers S. winner Willow Hour; MGISW and $2 million-plus earner Val’s Prince, who took the 1997 Hong Kong Cup; Hooper homebred Diplomatic Jet, who won a trio of Grade I events in 1996; 1967 Coaching Club American Oaks heroine Quillo Queen. Picou is survived by his son Jim Picou and daughters Debbie Markowski and Lisa Picou. His wife Helen passed away in December 2016. Brother Clarence Picou, also a trainer, died in November 1998. Arrangements for a family celebration of life will be planned at a later date.
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