Thoroughbred racing is very much a family affair. Whether it is the California or New York circuits or maybe a smaller-tiered track somewhere in the United States, it is not difficult to find someone whose clan has been part of the sport for generations.
In Southern California, the Stute family qualifies as one of the best examples of this trend. Both Mel and Warren Stute were mainstays on the circuit, combing to win thousands of races while becoming highly loved and respected by everyone.
That popularity extends to Mel's son, Gary, who has been part of the local scene for decades.
Growing up in a racing family, it is fair to say that Gary learned about the game early thanks to Mel and Warren taking out their trainer's licenses before he was even born. That knowledge only expanded as Gary became an assistant trainer to Mel in adulthood, notably when the popular and talented Snow Chief was part of Mel's barn. It was working alongside his father that Gary gained even more education on the daily life of a trainer. It served him well, for in time he joined his dad and uncle as a conditioner of racehorses.
Much like Mel and Warren, Gary has managed to be a longtime staple of Southern California racing. He has saddled winners for years, and among his most sucessful horses are Awesome Lady, Frank the Barber and Roman Commander, all of whom won or placed in stakes during their careers.
But Gary's best horse is undoubtedly Papa Clem, who won the 2009 Arkansas Derby and 2010 San Fernando Stakes (both of them a Grade II) and earned over a million dollars. Like his father before him, Gary experienced the feeling of sending a horse to the Kentucky Derby, as Papa Clem finished fourth in the 2009 renewal.
These days, Gary continues to operate his racing stable, saddling horses and winning races. He also inherited his father's affability and gregariousness, which has long been part of local racing community.
He is a member of one of California racing's first families, and has made his family proud. But at the same time, Gary Stute has earned the respect and friendship of many for being one of the good guys personally and professionally.