Trainer 'Butch' Lenzini is found dead in N.Y. Ex-Marylander, 49, won '82 Preakness with 'Ruler'

November 15, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Thoroughbred trainer John J. "Butch" Lenzini Jr., who saddled Aloma's Ruler to victory in the 1982 Preakness, was found dead in his apartment in New York Wednesday. The cause of death has not been determined.

Lenzini, 49, moved his stable from Maryland to New York 12 years ago and finished among the top 10 trainers on the latter circuit each year from 1985 through 1989.

His father, John Lenzini Sr., still has his stable in Maryland.

The younger Lenzini's greatest triumph came when Aloma's Ruler, a horse he was reluctant to run, bounced back from an ankle injury injury he suffered in February of his 3-year-old campaign to win the first of two straight Preaknesses for Maryland trainers.

Lenzini had been concerned that Aloma's Ruler had not had time to recover sufficiently from his previous race. Owner Nathan Scherr overruled the trainer.

"I didn't see any way he could come back," Lenzini said at the time. "But we put a machine on the leg, we iced it and he came around quickly.

"The only thing Mr. Scherr wanted was to run him in the Preakness."

Scherr said recently: "If I had to pick one race in the whole world to win -- the Kentucky Derby, the English Derby, the Pimlico Special, one of the Breeders' Cups -- this would be the race. It was my most exciting moment in sports, maybe my most exciting moment in life."

Billy Boniface then won with Deputed Testamony in 1983.

Boniface said Lenzini was "a very likable and friendly guy. I never heard anybody say anything negative about him. And, of course, I know his father quite well."

Lenzini was born in Weymouth, Mass. He spent two summers in New York working for his father and then attended the University of Rhode Island and Kansas State before taking out his trainer's license.

The funeral will be held Monday in Pawtucket, R.I.

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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