Trainer Wayne Catalano, hospitalized at St. Alexius Medical Center in Illinois since last week with acute pneumonia and a severe case of influenza A, has regained consciousness and is responsive his son-in-law, jockey Channing Hill, posted on his Twitter account Thursday.
“Docs took Wayne’s breathing tube out and took him off sedatives today,” Hill, who is married to Catalano’s daughter Shelbi, posted. “He is fully conscious and responding very well to questions.”
Catalano had been in an induced coma to assist his body receive oxygen. Shelbi Hill posted on Facebook this past Monday “each day my dad is progressing in the right direction.”
More positive news came Thursday when Catalano recorded his 1,000th victory at Arlington Racecourse when Royal Alluvial scored a five-length victory in the day’s second race. Catalano had earned Arlington win No. 999 when Susan Moulton’s first-time starter Bella Ranger took the opener.
Catalano has been the leading trainer at Arlington 11 times and has also conditioned such notable runners as champions Dreaming of Anna and She Be Wild. He is now second to the retired Richard Hazelton (1,181) in Arlington’s all-time trainer standings.
Longtime assistant Fernando Canteria accepted congratulations on behalf of Catalano’s milestone from members of Arlington’s management team on Thursday.
“It’s an honor to carry his name like this,” Canteria said. “It’s a big, big name to carry on my shoulders and I’m just trying to do my best and do it the same way he does. I’ve known him for a long time and that’s what it is. We’ve been very lucky on this track and been very patient. Patience here is so important. My first day with the Catalano barn was in December of 1999 and I climbed my way up with him to where I am now (assistant trainer).”
A sign commemorating the milestone was being signed by Arlington staff and will be delivered to Catalano at Saint Alexius.
According to statistics from Equibase, Catalano has 2,531 winners overall.