Longtime Southern California horseman Noble Threewitt officially called it a career on what was his 96th birthday Feb. 24 after spending the better part of eight decades in the Thoroughbred industry.
Threewitt’s last starter, Threeatonce, finished third in a $12,500 claiming event on Jan. 26.
In a 30-minute winner’s circle ceremony while surrounded by family and friends, Feb. 24 Arcadia Mayor Roger Chandler officially declared the day as “Noble Threewitt Day” in the city. Threewitt was also honored with tributes from his fellow trainers, track managers and friends, as well as thunderous applause from the thousands of fans in the grandstand on hand for the occasion.
“I’m honored,” Threewitt said at the tremendous turnout.
After beginning his career at age 16 as a jockey riding on the Kansas fair circuit, the Illinois native took out his trainer’s license at age 21 in 1932 and at the time was the youngest licensed Thoroughbred trainer in the country. Threewitt retires 11th on the list of Santa Anita’s most successful trainers’ list with 425 trips to the winner’s circle. He conditioned dozens of stakes winners over his lengthy career, including 1954 Wood Memorial Stakes and Florida Derby winner Correlation. Under legendary jockey Bill Shoemaker, Correlation went on to finish fifth in that year’s Kentucky Derby.
Other notable stakes winners sent out by Threewitt over his 75-year training career include Theresa’s Tizzy, Old Topper, Devoted Brass, Hairless Heiress, Debonair Junior, Hula Blaze, Cuzwuzwrong, King of Cricket, Out of the East, Try Sheep, Sea Eagle, Perizade, Honey’s Gem, and Speedy Edie.
In addition to capturing the training title at Hollywood Park from 1959 through 1961, he was also leading trainer at Golden Gate Fields in 1970 and in 1956 he saddled a then-record nine consecutive starters at the now defunct Tanforan Racecourse Northern California.
Threewitt was training horses before Santa Anita was constructed, and as a young conditioner at Caliente Racetrack in Tijuana he built a friendship with fellow horseman Tom Smith, who would earn his place in history as the trainer of the legendary Seabiscuit. The two shared a room on the Mexico track’s backside before their careers as successful conditioners took off.
Though obviously an accomplished horseman, Threewitt’s legacy will undoubtedly be his tireless work and contributions on behalf of thousands of backstretch workers at all of California’s racetracks. He was a six-time president of the California Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the HBPA’s national president for 16 years.
Threewitt will remain president of the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that bears his name and provides free medical and dental benefits for stable employees and their families out of the Santa Anita clinic located near the facility’s backstretch.
Though he won’t be arriving at Santa Anita at 3:30 any longer, Threewitt will continue to spend time at the clinic that bears his name. A similar clinic is available to workers at Bay Meadows in San Mateo
“He’s always looked after his horses, he’s always looked after the people who worked for him and he’s always looked out for everyone on the backside,” CHRB equine medical director and longtime friend Rick Arthur said. “(The clinic) was Noble’s dream.”