Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Legendary California Training Family Has a New Shot at the Kentucky Derby

Mel and Gary Stute
Father and son: trainers Mel and Gary Stute at Clockers Corner 4/15/09.

There hasn't been this type of excitement in the Stute family since 1986, when champion Snow Chief won the Florida, Jersey, and Santa Anita Derbys. Trained by Mel Stute, Snow Chief ran 11th behind Ferdinand in the Kentucky Derby, but went on to win the Preakness and the following year's Strub Stakes and Oaklawn Handicap on his way to retiring as the all-time California-bred earner.

This year, Mel's son Gary takes Papa Clem to Churchill Downs on the heels of his impressive win in the $1 million Arkansas Derby on Apr. 11.

Papa Clem was named in honor of owner Bo Hirsch's father, Clement L. Hirsch. According to Gary Stute, "Papa Clem" was the nickname given to the elder Hirsch by Bo's children.

Clement Hirsch was a prominent California Thoroughbred owner best known as co-founder and president of the Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita. The Hirsch and Stute families share a long association in California racing. Warren Stute, Mel's older brother, trained for Hirsch for more than 40 years.

1 comment:

zraces said...

Mel should have been put in the Hall Of Fame years ago. He has done more with less stock than anyone in the game, won Breeders Cups and Classics with backyard breds.
The story of Clement Hirsch and the Stute's and now their sons going to the Derby should be the feel good story of the year for racing. How this is being missed mainstream shows how little the game promotes itself.

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