Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The first in a weekly series spotlighting California trainers.
In choosing someone for my new series of posts on California trainers, I didn't have to think twice about who should be the first. Few trainers in California are as well respected and beloved as Mel Stute, who has been training here for more than 60 years.
Stute took a few minutes after training hours at Del Mar to talk about his experience as a trainer, and life in general. He discusses training methods and how they have changed over the years. He also offers a few insights about life, having just celebrated 59 years of marriage to Annabelle.
Born in 1927 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mel is the father of trainer Gary Stute and younger brother of trainer Warren Stute, who passed away in 2007.
He has won 12 training titles, including three at Hollywood Park and seven at Fairplex Park, where he is the all-time leader in races won. He was the first inductee into Fairplex Park's Hall of Fame in 2003. In his honor, there is a "Mel Stute Bar" in the Clubhouse at Hollywood Park and a "Stute's Sports Bar" at Fairplex Park. In 2006, he shared the third annual Laffit Pincay Jr. Award with his brother, Warren -- an award that is presented for integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction in the sport.
Stute trained Eclipse Award winners Snow Chief (1986 Three-Year-Old) and Brave Raj (1986 Two-Year-Old Filly). The long list of stakes winners he has trained also includes Very Subtle, Double Discount, Klassy Kim, Telly's Pop, Real Connection, Right Con, and Buffythecenterfold.
Stute underwent heart bypass surgery in 2000 but was back to work within two weeks. At 82, he's still going strong. His years of experience and willingness to share his knowledge make Mel Stute an invaluable resource for California horseracing.