01/09/2003 12:00AM

Early bird catches yet another worm


ARCADIA, Calif. - He has been doing the same thing for more than 70 years, since before Santa Anita opened. He has been at this track for every day of every meet, so it wasn't surprising that 92-year-old Noble Threewitt beat everyone to the barn again Thursday morning, the day after winning his first race of the season with Bitingly Cold.

It used to be a pick 'em proposition as to whether Threewitt or Charlie Whittingham would be the first trainer at the track each morning. Since Whittingham died, the bet is off the board.

"I go by the doughnut shop at 4 o'clock and get the doughnuts, unless they're slow to open, and I'm here by 4:30," Threewitt said Thursday morning at his barn. "I get a dozen. I don't eat the doughnuts, but I bring them in for the help."

Threewitt always has looked out for the little guy. He is as sharp of mind, agile, and busy as ever. Even though he trains just five horses - four for Bitingly Cold's owner, Barbara Hunter of Kentucky - Threewitt has a full schedule. After training his horses, he heads to the ontrack clinic of which he is president. The facility offers low-cost medical and dental care for grooms, exercise riders, and hotwalkers.

Threewitt heads home to have lunch with his wife, Beryl, also 92, with whom he will celebrate his 70th anniversary next month. And then he comes back to the track in the afternoon to oversee the feeding of his horses. The next morning, he heads to the doughnut shop to begin the cycle anew.

Threewitt has had few runners of prominence since his one-two punch of Old Topper and Theresa's Tizzy were retired a few years ago. "We've been in kind of a slump. When I called Mrs. Hunter at home last night, I told her maybe we'd win another. She said, 'Let's not get greedy,' " Threewitt said, laughing.

Threewitt said he still gets a kick out of winning, though he's years removed from the days when his barn was one of the most powerful on the West Coast. "There's nothing like winning a race," he said.

Major Idea wins Blue Norther

Major Idea showed that she is an upcoming force in the 3-year-old filly turf division with a two-length victory in Wednesday's $76,300 Blue Norther Stakes.

She steadily advanced from the backstretch until the top of the stretch, then drew clear under Victor Espinoza. Major Idea was timed in 1:34.89 for one mile on firm turf. It was her third victory in seven starts, but her first in a stakes race. She finished third in the Miesque Stakes in November.

"She's improving," said Neil Drysdale, who trains Major Idea for the late Prince Ahmed bin Salman's The Thoroughbred Corporation. "She got the lead quite easily. It looked like when she made the lead she was loafing a little. She did it easily."

Major Idea has run her best races on turf, but she showed some promise on dirt finishing a distant second to Santa Catarina in a maiden race last summer at Del Mar.

Kevin Stucki dead at 49

Kevin Stucki, a former trainer and assistant on the starting-gate crew, died Sunday night after battling leukemia. He was 49.

Stucki is the son of Keith Stucki, the trainer of one of California's all-time greats, Ancient Title. When Stucki first worked on the starting-gate crew, he was assigned to handle Ancient Title in the gate.

Keith Stucki, 83, survives his son, along with Kevin Stucki's companion, Buff Cardona, his three sisters, a brother, and two sons, Kevin and Daniel.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Douglas and Zook Mortuary, 600 E. Foothill Blvd. in Monrovia, just a few minutes from the racetrack.

* A memorial service for former trainer Vance Longden, who died Monday, will not be held for approximately two weeks.

* Our Bobby V., preparing for the Santa Catalina Stakes on Jan. 18, worked seven furlongs in 1:27 Thursday morning with jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. up for trainer Bill Spawr. "He's a nice horse. He can really run," Pincay said. Pincay rarely comes out in the morning, and was teased for showing up. "I don't sleep anyway," Pincay said.

* Both Martin Pedroza and Patrick Valenzuela, who were thrown from their mounts in a nasty accident on Wednesday, rode the rest of the card Wednesday and kept right on going Thursday.

* At Hollywood Park, the unbeaten filly Sightseek worked six furlongs in 1:13.80 for trainer Bobby Frankel.

* Trainer Warren Stute reported that Miss Houdini, the unbeaten winner of the Del Mar Debutante, is progressing nicely from a tendon injury suffered last fall. "We brought her in here for a scan the other day, and it was perfect," Stute said. "She's going to stay at Ridgeley Farm for four more months before we bring her back."