He’s known as Flaco at tracks across the southwest where he has trained racehorses for many years. Dick Cappellucci is making his first visit to Canterbury this summer, he is known by the bettors here as someone best not left off a ticket.
Cappellucci’s grandfather and father were trainers as is his brother. “No one in my family has fewer than 500 wins,” he said. As a youngster growing up in New Mexico, while others kids were doing various things during summer vacation, “my grandfather would pick us up at 4 a.m. and drive 37 miles over the pass to Raton. The track was Las Mesa Park,” he said. He quickly discovered there was no place he would rather be. “This is the best job I could ever have,” he said
Cappellucci trained at the several tracks in New Mexico but went to Turf Paradise in Phoenix this winter for the first time when the pandemic closed his home state tracks. He finished third in the standings.
Canterbury Park racing secretary Rob Junk, who holds the same position in Phoenix, recruited Cappellucci. “Robbie said to come up to Canterbury. I’m glad I did. I’d come back here every summer,” he said. He is impressed with the facility, the open spaces, the grass for grazing and the friendliness of the staff and the other trainers. “Where else would someone apologize for claiming your horse?” he asked. And claiming has been a common thing in the Cappellucci barn. The stalls may as well be equipped with revolving doors. “They’ve claimed 14 off of me,” he said. He also has done his fair share of claiming to replenish the stock. In the coming three days he had identified eight horses he would drop a claim on hoping to get two if lucky.
Cappellucci agrees with the assessment that a trainer is only as good as the crew he employs. He brought four grooms with him and they operate with precision, handling the 25 or so horses in the stable. Ramon Villalobos, who has worked for Flaco for three years, was named Minnesota HBPA Groom of the Week. Cappellucci can be found in a stall doing leg work as well or anything else that needs to get done for that matter.
The system works as the stable is clicking along at a 20+ percent win rate.