Thursday, April 23, 2009
Nowhere is news of Papa Clem more closely followed than right here at Clockers Corner, Santa Anita. Morning regulars gather around iconic trainer Mel Stute, hanging on every bit of current information about the California contender for the Kentucky Derby trained by his son, Gary.
Earlier today, Mel was proudly passing around this morning's article in the Los Angeles Times by well-known sports columnist Bill Dwyre. Dwyre brings attention to the story of the people behind the horse -- the "Hirsch-Stute team."
Dwyer's is the type of human interest story that gives life to the coverage of the Run for the Roses, and that inspires would-be racing fans to take a closer look at, and perhaps fall in love with, the sport that so beautifully weaves together the lives of humans and equines.
Papa Clem is trained by Gary Stute for owner Bo Hirsch. Warren Stute, Gary's uncle, trained for Bo's father, Clement L. Hirsch, for more than 40 years.
Mel Stute, who is still training at 81, also trained for Clement Hirsch in the early 60s, taking over for a couple of years when his brother tried a stint as a private trainer for Travis Kerr. Pressed for a story of one of his better runners from the period, Mel recalled Mary Mel -- a filly he claimed for Hirsch for $5,000 and who subsequently ran a close third against males in the 1963 Del Mar Derby.
With only 8 days to go until the First Saturday in May, the buzz at Clockers Corner will no doubt continue to escalate as we follow Papa Clem, Pioneerof the Nile, Chocolate Candy, I Want Revenge, and all of the "California connections" making their presence known in Louisville.