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Breeders Cup 2015

Ascanio Continues to Recover from Stroke

It’s been standing room only in Humberto Ascanio’s room at Arcadia Methodist Hospital since the 64-year-old trainer suffered a stroke last Tuesday.

That’s a tribute to the popularity of the long-time assistant to the late Bobby Frankel. Visitors are coming in droves. Take it from Jimmy Allard, a Runyonesque race tracker who describes himself as “a professional horse player” and who carries a nickname right out of Guys and Dolls: “The Hat.”

“He’s in good spirits and he’s one of the sweetest, nicest guys that ever walked on to a race track,” said Allard, who visited Ascanio at the hospital’s rehab facility Friday evening. “When I walked in to visit him, the nurse said, ‘My God, this guy’s popular. I can’t believe how many visitors he has.’ And when I walked in his room it was full of people. I had to joke with him. I said, ‘Geez, Umberto, after 37 years with Bobby Frankel, you dealt with him and all that pressure, and now he’s gone for two years and now this?

“If you can deal with him for 37 years, you can deal with this. It won’t be a big deal. I got a little bit of a chuckle out of him, so I was glad I went over and saw him. I love the man, I respect him and he’s one of the great horsemen in our country. He has incredible compassion for the horses.”

Allard has battled medical issues himself, overcoming facial and scalp cancers, which is the main reason he wears a hat. The Rochester, N.Y., native came to California on Sept. 1, 1974 when he was 20 years old.

“My first full time year at the race track was 1986, so this is my 27th year,” said Allard who touted Sham Stakes winner Out of Bounds as “the best-looking horse I’ve ever seen” when he caught a glimpse of him before his maiden win at Hollywood Park on Dec. 10.

“Obviously it’s going to be a long road in terms of any kind of full recovery, but his mental faculties are fine,” Allard said of Ascanio. “I spoke with him; he’s alert, sharp, can speak, but there’s definitely some paralysis and unfortunately he’s going to have a long road ahead of him in terms of rehabilitation.

“I just pray to God that he can come back good enough so that he can be out around the horses, which has been his entire life. That’s probably the best rehab he can get. Everybody’s praying for him, so he’ll be all right. He’ll come back.” ‘



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