William Molter

When it came to success in Thoroughbred racing, he not only experienced it both as a jockey and trainer, but did so throughout California.

A native of Fredericksburg, Texas, William Molter came into the world in 1910. As a jockey in the Golden State, he captured a handful of riding titles up north, but later found his greatest success as a trainer when he retired from the saddle and got into the conditioning aspect of the sport.

Molter began training in the 1930s, and during his career guided multiple horses to success both on a state and national level. Among them was On Trust (who you might remember had a stakes race named after him on the Southern California circuit a while back), and he had a long career in the 1940s which transitioned into the 1950s, and won or placed at all the major California tracks. He was the Santa Anita Derby champion in 1947, and later came in second in the Preakness.

Determine followed On Trust's example, finding victory at tracks throughout the Golden State. The 1954 season, for example, saw Determine take the San Gabriel Stakes, San Felipe Handicap, Santa Anita Derby, and Kentucky Derby in 1954.

When it came to Molter's notable horses, they seemed to always do well both in the three year old and handicap divisions. Along with On Trust and Determine, Imbros was a multiple stakes winner at three and continued that trend at four. The son of Polynesian counted among his victories the Debonair and San Jose Handicaps at three, and the Malibu Sequet (now just Malibu) Stakes, the California Stakes, and Pacific and Palos Verdes Handicaps at four.

Bobby Brocato was a force in California racing during the 1950s after running well in the East, adding the 1956 Tanforan, San Juan Capistrano, and Santa Anita Handicaps to his resume, among others. In the case of the Big 'Cap, Bobby Brocato long held the record for margin of victory in that race before Game On Dude captured the record in 2014.

Of all the horses that resided in the Molter barn, though, Round Table was easily the greatest. In a career spanning four seasons and sixty-six starts, Round Table was third or better all but ten times, and that included a third in the 1957 Kentucky Derby. Under Molter's management, the 1958 season produced a Big 'Cap win, a sweep of the Strub Series (making him the first horse to do so), as well as awards for Top Turf Horse, Top Older Male, and Horse of the Year.

While Molter trained great horses, he was also one of the most dominant trainers in Southern California during the 1940s and 1950s. During those decades, Molter collected eighteen training titles between Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita. From 1947 to 1949, he swept each of the meets at those three tracks. If you look at the history of Hollywood Park, you will find that Molter has one of the highest single-season win totals in the history of the track with 50 in 1948. That was the record for nearly a quarter-century, and only Bobby Frankel was able to surpass Molter's total, doing so twice.

In addition to his achievements in California, Molter also reached the top of his profession nationally, leading his peers in overall wins during four consecutive seasons, and also topped the earnings list four times as well.

Sadly, Molter passed away suddenly in 1960, leaving a legacy of one of the Golden State's top trainers, and that status has not diminished. Known for being dedicated to his profession, he won 2,160 races in his career, earned nearly $12 million, and ranks in the top twenty in both stakes and overall victories at Hollywood Park. Molter is also a member of a select group of trainers to have won the Big 'Cap multiple times (only nine have done so), and one of fifteen to be a multiple winner of the Santa Anita Derby.

Stakes wins were also not limited to California for Molter. He captured victories at tracks throughout the country, with the Blue Grass Stakes (Kentucky), Carter Handicap (New York), Hawthorne Gold Cup and Arlington Handicap (Illinois), Gulfstream Park Handicap (Florida), and Kentucky Derby all part of his collection.

He was posthumously inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 1960, and was among the charter members of the California Racing Hall of Fame in 1987.

Sources: https://www.racingmuseum.org/hall-of-fame/william-molter

Media Guides of Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita.

Entry added March 15, 2019. AF