Veteran trainer Mel Stute, who saddled his first winner at Portland Meadows in 1947, has nine horses cataloged at the Barretts Winter Mixed Sale that begins Jan. 24. Although the consignment represents his entire Santa Anita stable, the 83-year-old Indiana native isn’t quite ready to announce his retirement.
“I am cutting back,” said Stute from Clockers’ Corner at Santa Anita Jan. 22. “We’ve got nine in the sale on Tuesday with (consignor) Mary Knight. These are horses of racing age and most of them are in (his wife) Annabelle’s name. I’m keeping my 2-year-olds and I’ve got a couple of them turned out right now.
“I’ve got five 2-year-olds coming in here to Santa Anita on Feb. 1. I don’t know how long I’ll keep them. I might run them through the Barretts sale in May, so we’ll have to wait and see. I want to do what I can to help (his son) Gary also, so we’ll be evaluating everything in the next few months.”
Stute’s career highlights include wins in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in 1986 with Snow Chief; the 1986 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) with Brave Raj; and the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) with the filly Very Subtle.
Both Snow Chief and Brave Raj went on to win Eclipse Awards in their respective categories in 1986.
The Stute-conditioned Double Discount, owned and bred in California by long-time client The Hat Ranch, set a world record at Santa Anita in 1977, running 1 1/4 miles on turf in 1:57 2/5 in the Carlton F. Burke Handicap. He was ridden by Paco Mena, who was also the regular rider of Telly’s Pop, a fan favorite that Stute bred and later sold to movie mogul Howard Koch and actor Telly Savalis.
Telly’s Pop would go on to win the 1975 Del Mar Futurity and ’75 Norfolk at Oak Tree. He also won the 1976 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields.
Stute ranks eighth all-time at Santa Anita with 540 winners.