John A. DiMario, who trained Runaway Groom to a memorable upset in the 1982 GI Travers S. at Saratoga, passed away Thursday at the age of 91.
Runaway Groom famously defeated the winners of all three Triple Crown races in that year’s Midsummer Derby-Gato Del Sol (Kentucky Derby), Aloma’s Ruler (Preakness) and Conquistador Cielo (Belmont). That feat had only occured once before when Sun Briar pulled it off back in 1918, per Jonathan Stettin of Past the Wire.
Runaway Groom also captured two-thirds of that season’s Canadian Triple Crown.
“I’ve been training horses for 30 years, but you wait a lifetime to get a horse like this,” DiMario told The New York Times after winning the Travers. “I didn’t know how good these other horses were, so we took a shot.”
DiMario left his job in a Manhattan accounting firm to pursue his training career. He was also an accomplished pianist.
DiMario, a longtime resident of Bellerose, New York, was predeceased by his wife Anne M. DiMario. DiMario was the father of John P. DiMario and Juliette DiMario-Clines and the grandfather of Michael Clines. He is also survived by many nephews and nieces.