12/16/2006 1:00AM

Hall of Fame trainer Schulhofer dies at 80


Hall of Fame trainer Flint S. "Scotty" Schulhofer, who trained six champions during a 40-year career, died Thursday night at Aventura Hospital in south Florida after a short battle with cancer. He was 80.

According to Daily Racing Form statistics, Schulhofer won 1,119 races from 7,157 starters before retiring at the end of 2001. He also had 1,015 seconds and 913 thirds, and his horses earned $52,245,076 in purses. Schulhofer was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.

Schulhofer trained 80 horses who won stakes, including champions Mac Diarmida, Smile, Rubiano, Lemon Drop Kid, Fly So Free, and Ta Wee.

Schulhofer began his association with horses at his father's riding academy in Aiken, S.C. At age 17, Schulhofer schooled horses for trainer Oleg Dubassoff before being called to serve his country in World War II.

After his tour of duty was over, Schulhofer studied pre-med for two years at The Citadel in South Carolina before returning to work for Dubassoff.

In 1950, Schulhofer began riding steeplechase horses, a career that lasted until 1962. Schulhofer began training Thoroughbreds later that year for owner John Schiff. Schulhofer trained horses for Schiff for four years before taking a private job for Tartan Farms when he replaced the retired John Nerud. During his tenure for Tartan, Schulhofer trained Ta Wee, the filly who was voted champion sprinter in both 1969 and 1970.

In 1972, Schulhofer opened a public stable that he maintained throughout his career, with the exception of the fall of 1982 when he trained privately for Harbor View Farm.

Schulhofer won the Belmont Stakes twice, with Colonial Affair (1993) and Lemon Drop Kid (1999). Other top horses trained by Schulhofer include Cryptoclearance, Scan, Sewickley, Shared Interest, Unaccounted For, and World Appeal.

"Those kind aren't around anymore," trainer Sal Russo, who worked as an assistant to Schulhofer for 17 years, said of his mentor. "We had a pretty close relationship. He was not my dad, but he was as close. Special, special man; great, great, great horseman. If he could've taken [all the horses] home every night he would have."

The Belmont victory by Colonial Affair was an historic moment because the horse was ridden by Julie Krone, who became the first - and remains the only - female jockey to win a Triple Crown race.

"I remember him saying to me that morning, 'How are you going to feel with those carnations around your neck?' '' Krone said. "He gave me so much faith in myself being a horseman."

Randy Schulhofer worked as an assistant to his father until Scotty retired. The younger Schulhofer said his father's best attribute as a horseman was patience. The younger Schulhofer mentioned Lemon Drop Kid's wins in the 1999 Travers and 2000 Whitney among his father's favorite moments.

"Saratoga was such a special place, and he really enjoyed that horse," Schulhofer said.

A funeral service will be held for Schulhofer on Monday at 11 a.m. at the Shellhouse Funeral Home in Aiken, S.C.

In addition to his son, Schulhofer is survived by his wife, Stephanie; two daughters, Margaret and Susan; and seven grandchildren.