FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hialeah Park Owner John J. Brunetti, Sr. Dies At 87
Iconic Thoroughbred Owner And Breeder Leaves Lasting Legacy In South Florida
Hialeah, FL / March 2, 2018 – John J. Brunetti, Sr., who purchased the historic Hialeah Park Race Course in 1977 and carved a lasting legacy as a Thoroughbred owner and breeder in America, died peacefully on Friday, March 2, 2018 at his home in Boca Raton, FL.
Mr. Brunetti, who turned 87 years old in January, battled a series of health issues in the final years of his life, including the loss of a lung in 2017 and a kidney transplant in 2013.
John J. Brunetti, Sr. was born on January 18, 1931 in the Bronx area of New York City. His parents, Joseph and Anna Brunetti later moved the family to New Jersey.
At the age of 13, Mr. Brunetti attended his beloved New York Military Academy and became lifelong friends with many of his fellow cadets. Later in life, he was elected President of the Board of Trustees of NYMA and worked to change the rules to allow admission of the first female cadets.
During his years at the University of Miami, while earning a degree in business, Mr. Brunetti discovered a new passion, beautiful Hialeah Park and Race Course, and he dreamed of owning the “Grand Dame of Racing” one day.
His dream came true in 1977 when he purchased Hialeah Park and kept the iconic venue alive in spite of the many challenges throughout the years. Some 36 years later, Mr. Brunetti opened a successful casino on the property.
His motto was “Hialeah Park, Now and Forever.”
John J. Brunetti, Sr. is survived by “the love of his life”, his wife Tracee; two sons, John J. Brunetti, Jr., and wife Adina, Stephen Patrick Brunetti, and wife Kimberly; sister JoAnn Brunetti and husband Sal DeGuido; cousins John and Joan Inganamort; grandchildren, Courtney McKnight, Stephen Patrick Brunetti Jr., and Dario Xander Brunetti; nieces Candy Moore, Kim Simmons, Kelly Kelly, and families; stepsons Mario and Giovanni Ghio and step granddaughters Michelle and Jessica Novak.
Mr. Brunetti served until his passing as Chairman of the Board of The Brunetti Organization, a real estate and property development company with holdings in New Jersey, Florida, Texas, and California. In appreciation of his good fortune and his philanthropic nature, he formed The Brunetti Foundation and contributed to many worthy causes throughout the country chosen by members of the Brunetti Family.
As Mr. Brunetti told Nick Sortal of the Miami Herald in December of 2017, that included working with Florida State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle to fight human trafficking, working with Jackson Memorial Hospital to support the Wounded Warrior Project, and healthcare for babies born with cleft palates. The Brunetti Foundation also sponsored the Miami PBS airing of Ken Burns’ recent series “The Vietnam War.”
Mr. Brunetti enjoyed spending time with members of his family on the east coast as well as those on the west coast. He traveled the world, liked reading a good book, seeing the latest movies, fine dining, having morning coffee with friends, being with the horses while relaxing at his farm in Ocala, or watching any kind of sport. Of course, his favorite to watch was The Sport of Kings … and he did it so well.
A memorial service for John J. Brunetti, Sr. will be held in the Clubhouse at Hialeah Park on Monday, March 12, 2018 at 12:30 PM.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Office of Medical Advancement, 1500 N.W. 12th Avenue, Suite 1020E, Miami, FL 33136 or Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm, 1841 Paynes Depot Road, Georgetown, KY 40324.
FRANK FIORE / Hialeah Park VP of Entertainment
Hialeah Park Racing & Casino, with entrances at 100 East 32nd Street and 2200 East 4th Avenue, is easily accessible from all major Miami highways. The landmark venue is conveniently located just minutes by car from Miami International Airport, South Beach, Downtown Miami, Coral Gables, and Doral. Hialeah Park –”The World’s Most Beautiful Race Course”– is one of Miami’s most iconic destinations. For more information, please call 305-885-8000 or visit www.hialeahpark.com.