08/09/2007 12:00AM

Warren Stute dies at 85


Warren Stute, whose training career covered seven decades and included wins in some of California's most prestigious races, died Thursday morning in Arcadia, Calif., after a brief illness, his family said. He was 85.

Stute trained such stakes winners as Great Circle and Tonga in the 1950s, Figonero and Table Mate in the 1960s, June Darling and Snow Sporting in the 1970s, My Favorite Moment and Raipillan in the 1980s, Magican Maiden in the 1990s, and Go Go, Grey Memo, and Miss Houdini in this decade.

Grey Memo gave Stute his most lucrative win, in the $1 million Godolphin Mile in Dubai in 2002. Stute's final Grade 1 win came with Miss Houdini in the 2002 Del Mar Debutante.

"He was one of the guys that made California racing," trainer John Sadler said.

Stute was a hands-on horseman. He regularly exercised some of his own horses until he turned 80, according to Pedro Garcia, who began working for Stute in 1974. Stute rode his pony during training hours until last year. His last winner was Outlaw Jones at Santa Anita in April.

Born in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Sept. 30, 1921, Stute and his family, including younger brother and current trainer Mel Stute, moved to California in 1934. Stute began training at Caliente in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1940.

"He was a one-of-a-kind guy," trainer Darrell Vienna said. "You always know where he was because he always spoke what was in his heart."

Stute won the Del Mar Debutante twice - with Tonga in 1951 and with Miss Houdini. When Miss Houdini won, he joked, "I like to win that race every 50 years or so."

His first win in a $100,000 race came with Great Circle in the 1951 Santa Anita Maturity, later named the Strub Stakes. The Maturity was the first $100,000 stakes win for the jockey, 19-year-old Bill Shoemaker.

Stute saddled two horses in the Kentucky Derby - Field Master finished 13th in 1967 and Greeley's Galaxy was 11th in 2005. The 38 years between those races is the longest gap between starters for a Kentucky Derby trainer.

"The only thing that impressed Warren was a good horse," Del Mar president Joe Harper said. "Money and fame didn't."

For 48 years, Stute trained for Clement Hirsch, the founder of the Oak Tree Racing Association. Together, they campaigned such stakes winners as Figonero, Magical Maiden, and Snow Sporting.

Stute is survived by his wife, Trudy; sister Linda; brother Mel; children Glen, Laura, and Steve; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Funeral services are pending.