Paul Fout, Trained Eclipse Winner Life's Illusion, Dies at 78

Paul Raymond Fout, the only man to train a filly named champion steeplechaser, died Aug. 16. Fout, of Middleburg, Va., was 78.

Fout sent out Virginia (Guest) Van Allen's Life's Illusion twice in 1975, and she won both starts, the Lovely Night Steeplechase Handicap and New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap. She received the Eclipse Award in her division. Since 1936, championships have been awarded in racing, and Life's Illusion remains the only female steeplechase champion.

At the time she was named champion, Life's Illusion was just the fifth 4-year-old to win the award for jumpers. Since then, five others have also done so at age four.

Fout's son, Doug, trained last year's champion steeplechaser, Hirapour.

Fout trained a grade I winner on the flat much more recently, when Beverly Steinman's Colstar won the Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park in 2000.

A board member of the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Fout was a past chairman, president, and general manager of the Middleburg Spring Race Association. He designed the Alfred H. Hunt steeplechase course for the Middleburg spring meet.

Besides his son, Fout is survived by his wife, Eve Prime Fout; two daughters, Nina Lynn Fout and Virginia Wiley Fout; and two grandchildren.

Contributions may be made to the Middleburg Spring Race Association, P.O. Box 1173, Middleburg, Va., 20118; or Piedmont Regional Orchestra, P.O. Box 509, Warrenton, Va., 20188.