Hambletonian winning trainer Osvaldo Formia dies

Hightstown, NJ — Osvaldo Formia, who trained Hambletonian winners Harmonious and Probe, died Saturday (April 9) in Florida. He was three days from turning 84.

In addition to his victories in 1990 with Harmonious and in 1989 with Probe, who finished in a dead heat for win with Park Avenue Joe, Mr. Formia was the caretaker for two Hambletonian champions: Speedy Somolli in 1978 and Trotting Triple Crown winner Lindy’s Pride in 1969.

Osvaldo Formia died Saturday (April 9) in Florida. USTA/Ed Keys photo.

Mr. Formia was a native of Argentina, where his father, Constancio, was a well-known and respected horseman. Mr. Formia’s first visit to the U.S. came in 1962 when Constancio’s trotter Thomas Atkyns was invited to travel from Argentina to New York for the International Trot at Roosevelt Raceway.

The journey, though, was delayed for days by fighting related to a revolution in Argentina. Thomas Atkyns arrived only one day prior to the International Trot and was unable to compete. To reward the horse and connections for their perseverance, Thomas Atkyns was paraded before the International Trot crowd of 53,297, which roared in appreciation.

After a three-week stay, Mr. Formia went home to Argentina. A year later, he made a second trip to the U.S. and in 1966 he moved to the States for good.

Mr. Formia worked for Hall of Famer Howard Beissinger, who trained and drove Lindy’s Pride and Speedy Somolli, in the 1960s and 1970s. After starting his own stable, Mr. Formia enjoyed a successful partnership with the Antonacci family’s Lindy Farms and Lindy Racing Stable. Lindy Farms bred and owned Probe and Lindy Racing co-owned Harmonious with Sal Garofalo. Lindy Farms also owned Lindy’s Pride.

“All of us at Lindy Farms are saddened by the loss of Osvaldo Formia,” said a statement posted by Lindy Farms on Twitter. “He truly loved the horses and was a gifted horseman. We have many great memories with Osvaldo, and he will live on through his accomplishments on the racetrack and in the hearts of those who knew him.”

Harmonious’ win in the Hambletonian made Mr. Formia the fifth trainer to win the event in consecutive years, joining Henry Thomas, Ben White, Frank Ervin, and Billy Haughton. Harmonious gave his trainer a scare two days prior to the race when Mr. Formia found the colt cut and scraped in his paddock after suffering from colic. Fortunately, the abrasions were not severe. It was too late to start the horse on medication, so Mr. Formia treated the colic with Maalox.

“He’s not a pretty horse,” said Mr. Formia, as quoted by UPI, following Harmonious’ Hambletonian triumph. “In fact, he’s pretty ugly, but he’s just a bull on the racetrack. When (the owners) bought him, I didn’t like him. I think I’ve changed my opinion today.”

Harmonious, who won 10 of 14 races and $1.03 million in 1990, was named that season’s Dan Patch Award Trotter of the Year.

Other top horses trained by Mr. Formia included Dan Patch Award-winning trotters Lindy Lane and Rum Boogie. Creamy Mimi, who won the 2008 Hambletonian Oaks with trainer Trond Smedshammer, began her career with Mr. Formia the previous year.

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