Thursday, October 9, 2008
Mel Stute has been training horses at Santa Anita longer than just about anyone else here. He started working here as a groom in 1945. At that time, his brother, Warren, was an exercise rider at Santa Anita. The two brothers would become two of the most highly respected trainers in California.
When his brother, Warren Stute, passed away last summer, we lost a great trainer and wonderful man, but Mel continues to train at age 81 - heading up the Stute training "dynasty" that includes his son, Gary, and Warren's son, Glen.
To many racetrackers, myself included, mornings at Clockers Corner wouldn't be the same without Mel Stute. Every morning for as long as most of us can remember, Mel has been out there having his coffee, watching his horses work, and chatting with his buddies, including another legendary California trainer, Henry Moreno.
And the stories Mel can tell... I could sit for hours listening to him talk about his experiences and the marvelous characters in horseracing that he's known over the years. If you've ever know someone who "loves the game," you'll know what I mean when I say Mel truly loves horseracing, including the betting part! I hope to begin a series of posts with some of the stories I've heard at Clockers Corner.
In the meantime, a quick nugget from Mel this morning: When I asked him about the name of his horse in the 3rd race today, Illegal Danish (why would you name a horse that?), he said, "I don't like the name, but Mr. Schiffer (one of his longtime owners) told me you should never change a horse's name; it's bad luck." And if anyone believes in luck, it's Mel Stute.