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Blane Schvaneveldt dies at 76; legendary quarter horse trainer

He dominated Los Alamitos for decades, winning 5,186 out of 32,173 starts for more than $55 million in earnings. He was American Quarter Horse Assn.'s trainer of the year for 11 consecutive years.

July 08, 2010|By Claire Noland, Los Angeles Times
  • Blane Schvaneveldt shows off one of his champions, Town Policy, in 1978. He was the top quarter horse trainer at Los Alamitos for decades.
Blane Schvaneveldt shows off one of his champions, Town Policy, in 1978.… (Los Angeles Times )

Blane Schvaneveldt, a hall of fame quarter horse trainer who dominated Los Alamitos Race Course for decades, racking up nearly 4,000 victories at the Orange County track, has died. He was 76.

Schvaneveldt died Monday at Los Alamitos Medical Center, the track announced. He had been hospitalized Friday morning with heart arrhythmia.

Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2001, Schvaneveldt had won 3,982 races and 38 training titles at Los Alamitos since 1968.

In 1977 he became the first quarter horse trainer to total more than $1 million in race earnings in a year. He was the nation's top quarter horse trainer in money earned 10 times, the leader in races won seven times, and the American Quarter Horse Assn.'s trainer of the year from 1985 to 1996.

Despite his impressive resume, Schvaneveldt wasn't one to tout his own record.

"Blane lets his horses speak for him," fellow trainer Mike Chambless told The Times in 1982. "And you can tell that his horses speak a lot for him."

Among the champions Schvaneveldt trained were Refrigerator, First Down Dash, Town Policy and Dash For Speed.

Schvaneveldt was born in 1934, one of 12 children who grew up learning the family's cattle-trading business on their ranch in Preston, Idaho. As a teenage jockey he raced quarter horses, then moved into training and trading horses in the Pacific Northwest.

He arrived in Southern California in 1968, settling in Cypress and overseeing a horse breeding ranch in the Riverside County community of Romoland.

"When my dad and I were partners in the cattle business," Schvaneveldt told The Times in 1982, "he used to get mad about me trading horses and say, 'You'll never make no money with them horses.' I didn't listen to him."

According to the American Quarter Horse Assn., which didn't keep detailed records for individual trainers until 1970, he totaled more than $55 million in earnings in winning 5,186 races out of 32,173 starts.

Schvaneveldt, who had cut back on his training schedule after several back operations, is survived by his wife, Shirley; their daughters, Shonna Smith and Brenda Figueroa; and three grandchildren.

Los Alamitos is planning a memorial service July 19.

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