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Warren Stute, 85; Southern California thoroughbred trainer won many local stakes

August 10, 2007|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

Warren Stute, a thoroughbred trainer for well over 60 years and the older brother of trainer Mel Stute, died Thursday morning at his home in Arcadia. Stute, whose health had been failing in recent years after a series of strokes, was 85.

Stute, who until a few years ago often galloped his horses during morning training hours, died the day after his brother turned 80.

"Warren was true to his word," said Gary Stute, his nephew and also a trainer. "He said he would make my dad's birthday but wouldn't ruin it."

Stute had been an active trainer until his health worsened earlier this year and his son Glen took over the stable. He had continued to train after suffering strokes in 2002 and 2004.

"I never would have been where I was or anywhere without him," Mel Stute told the Associated Press. "No other man could have had a brother like him."

Born Sept. 30, 1921, in Fort Wayne, Ind., Warren Stute moved to California with his family in 1934. A fan of horses in his youth, he grew too big to be a jockey, his first aspiration, but began working at the track as a hot walker and exercise rider before taking out his first trainer's license in 1940. He established a public stable in 1948.

During his training career, Stute was part of several firsts. He trained Tonga, the winner of the inaugural Del Mar Debutante in 1951, a race Stute won 51 years later with Miss Houdini in 2002.

He also was the trainer of Great Circle, winner of the 1951 Santa Anita Maturity. The victory in the Maturity, now called the Strub Stakes, was noteworthy because it was the first win in a stakes race worth $100,000 in the storied career of jockey Bill Shoemaker.

Stute also had the distinction of having the greatest number of years between Kentucky Derby starters.

Stute trained Greeley's Galaxy to an 11th-place finish in the 2005 Derby, 38 years after Field Master had run 13th in 1967.

A winner of numerous important stakes at all three major Southern California tracks -- Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar -- with horses such as Figonero, Snow Sporting, Magical Maiden and June Darling, Stute also had some international success late in life.

In 2002, Grey Memo won the $1-million Godolphin Mile in the United Arab Emirates, giving Stute the richest victory of his career and, at 80, he became the oldest trainer to win a stakes race in Dubai.

A little more than a year ago, Stute and his brother, with whom he was extremely close, were honored at Hollywood Park as co-recipients of the annual Laffit Pincay Jr. Award, named for the now-retired jockey and given to those who have "served the sport with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction."

The presentation, which was made as part of the Hollywood Gold Cup program July 8, 2006, prompted some memories from Stute, including his firing of an owner after he had won the 1952 Sunset Handicap with Great Circle at Hollywood Park. Stute felt the owner had been telling him how to train.

"We're standing there and the guy tells me, 'Well, we did it,' " he told Times columnist Bill Dwyre. "I said, 'No more we,' and told him to have his horse out of my barn by noon the next day."

Stute also recalled an incident when a disgruntled racing fan approached him in a doughnut shop, apparently unhappy with how one of the trainer's horses had performed.

"He called me all sorts of dirty names," Stute said. "I told him I just had a stroke, and he said, 'Too bad you didn't die.' So I hit him."

A memorial service will be held today at Santa Anita Park. Besides his brother and son Glen, Stute is survived by his wife, Trudy; two other children, Steve and Laura; a sister, Linda; five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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bob.mieszerski@latimes.com

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