The New York Racing Association (NYRA) today announced that recently retired trainer John Hertler will present the trophy for the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile on Saturday, December 7 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Cigar Mile Racing Festival, which begins on Thursday, December 5, is highlighted by four graded races worth $1.5 million in purse money and anchors the final weekend of the Big A fall meet which concludes Sunday, December 8.
A native of Ridgewood, New York, Hertler provided 41 years of exemplary service in the horse racing industry, working as an assistant trainer for Hall of Fame conditioner P.G. Johnson for 13 years before going out on his own in 1978.
In 1984, Hertler trained Hall of Famer Slew o' Gold through a remarkable season that included Grade 1 wins in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga and the Woodward, Marlboro Cup Invitational and Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont en route to Eclipse Award honors as Champion Older Horse. Slew o' Gold completed his 1984 campaign with a strong second in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Classic following a dramatic stretch duel with the victorious Wild Again.
Hertler, 69, announced his retirement in October following over four decades of conditioning Thoroughbreds. Hertler saddled his final starter, Yankee Division, on October 10, finishing fourth in a $30,000 claiming event at Belmont Park. His last winner was Dublin Leprechaun on February 9 at Aqueduct.
“We are delighted to have Mr. Hertler make the trophy presentation for the Cigar Mile,” said Martin Panza, NYRA's Senior Vice President of Racing Operations. “John's hard work and dedication to the New York racing circuit over the past four decades is greatly appreciated. All of us at NYRA will miss seeing him on the backstretch, but wish him the best in his well-earned retirement.”
Other notable horses trained by Hertler include Grade 2-winner Private Man; multiple stakes-winning New York-bred Ballindaggin; and Kashatreya, who was Hertler's last graded stakes winner when taking the 2000 Grade 2 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct.
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