Day At The Track

Ronnie Bencal passes at 77

04:02 AM 27 May 2020 NZST
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Bob and Ronnie Bencal, harness racing
Bob and Ronnie Bencal

Ronald Henry (Ronnie) Bencal passed peacefully on Monday, May 25 at 77 years of age after a long battle with respiratory illness.

Born in New York City to Henry and Pauline Bencal, Ronnie began his career in harness racing when he went to work for noted horseman Jim Grundy after he was discharged form the Army in 1965. He then moved to the WR Haughton barn where he transitioned from caretaker to assistant trainer.

In 1972 he joined his brother Bob as an assistant trainer at Roosevelt Raceway where they would enjoy many successful years racing there and Yonkers, The Meadowlands and eventually the Grand Circuit.

During the 1980's Ronnie tried the civilian life for a few years, operating a Baskin Robbins franchise in Florida, but Bob eventually convinced him to return to the stable where he would remain until his retirement in 2012.

Bob and Ronnie had a bond beyond their fraternal one, they were also great friends and equal partners in the training of the stable. They trusted each others judgment when it came to evaluating a horse and would bounce ideas off one another regarding how each horse in the stable could be brought to reach their potential. Ronnie was especially good with a horse that required patience.

The Bencal brothers had a long relationship with Jeff and Paula Gural, training horses for them since the early 1970's led by 1990 Jugette winner Lady Genius. Ronnie thought the world of them and considered Paula to be a kindred spirit.

Ronnie was an engaging and gregarious man. In his Florida retirement he'd spend his evenings at Bill Popfinger's Rattlesnake Jakes restaurant with a group of his friends, listening to the Grateful Dead and rooting for his beloved NY Yankees.

He is survived by brother Bob and Bob's wife Monica, younger brother Ken and sisters Barbara and Susan, daughter Jennifer (Cosgrove), granddaughters Stella and Mareena Cosgrove and stepson William Fleming.
 
No arrangement details are available at this time. In lieu of flowers a donation to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame or the Standardbred Retirement Foundation may be made in his memory.
 
Nick Salvi
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