Gianni Samaja Dies

Leading Brazilian owner and breeder Gianni Franco Samaja died April 4.

By Andrea Caudill
April 5, 2012

gianni samaja

Respected Brazilian owner and breeder Gianni Franco Samaja, 75, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, died April 4 from complications due to a medical procedure.

“He elected to try the surgery,” said longtime agent Vince Genco of Clovis, California. “I can see why he wanted to try it, because the quality of his life was not great, and anything that would improve it would be good. The one thing he really wanted to do was to be able to fly again, so that he could come up and see his horses in the United States.

“He’s one of the founding breeders in Brazil for racing Quarter Horses,” Genco said. “It’s been almost 40 years we’ve done business with him. He was one of Bill Verdugo’s first customers down there, and Bill sent many of his good mares to him. They are the mothers of his mares today that are producing all those good horses in Brazil. His broodmare band is second to none in Brazil, and he was capable of proving stallions because of that broodmare band – for example, Corona For Me became one of the top sires there, and also Blazen Bryan.”

Samaja also raced a number of great horses in the United States, headlined by his homebred champion aged horse Good Reason SA, who capped a $1.4-million career with a win in the 2011 Champion of Champions (G1). The Favorite Trick (TB) stallion also won the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1) and Golden State Derby (G1), and was one of only two champion aged stallions to also be champion aged horse in the past 20 years. Last year, Samaja was the only breeder to have two champions in 2011, as he also bred South America champion Fantastic For Me.

As a breeder, Samaja was represented by 83 winners from 518 starters since 1992, with earnings of more than $3.2 million. Since 1991, horses he owned won 89 races from 661 starts and earned more than $3 million.

In 2011, he was No. 14 on the list of leading owners and No. 20 as a leading breeder.

Homebreds include Aladim Bryan SA, Gottobes Cat, Queen Of Appeals and Appeals King Special. He was also the breeder of stakes winner Brando Bryan.

Samaja is survived by wife, Sonya; daughter Betina; sons Alberto and Claudio; and a number of grandchildren.

In Brazilian tradition, a funeral was held April 5. A memorial service will be held in the near future.

Condolences can be sent to:

Samaja Family
c/o Vince Genco
P.O. Box 3707
Clovis CA 93613

“Those who got to meet Gianni personally remember the smile that lit up his face and made everyone around him smile,” said Genco. “He was a good friend, a good partner, and he will be missed.”