Maryland lost its third prominent thoroughbred trainer this month when H. Steward Mitchell died Tuesday of heart failure at the age of 81. Mitchell's death followed that of Henry S. Clark, 95, on Feb. 6, and Richard "Dick" Dutrow, 61, on Feb. 19.
Born and raised in Laurel, Mitchell trained horses for half a century, beginning in the late 1940s after his service in World War II. He had been stabled at the Bowie Training Center for at least the past 30 years, said Thomas J. Baker, racing secretary at Laurel Park.
"He was a first-class gentleman," Baker said. "He'd help anybody -- riders, trainers, owners, backstretch workers."
"You didn't have to be a big shot for him to pay attention to you," said Vince Bracciale Jr., a trainer and former jockey who rode for Mitchell and later shared a barn with him. "He was a good guy all the way around."
Mitchell raced at dozens of tracks throughout the country, but always returned to his home state. He conditioned such stakes horses as Bea Quality and Pot of Antics, won five Primer Stakes with 2-year-olds (including three in a row in the 1970s) and trained the legendary Doctor Ichabod, who retired in 1995 after 116 starts.
Survivors include two sons, Herman S. Mitchell Jr. and Robert O. Mitchell; a daughter, Joan Clevenger; two brothers, Franklin P. Mitchell Jr. and John L. Mitchell; three sisters, Miriam Jenkins, Dorothy Jenkins and Ruth Polston, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held tomorrow from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Donaldson Funeral Home, 313 Talbott Ave., Laurel. Funeral services will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home. Burial will follow at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Laurel.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Maryland Horsemen's Assistance Fund, 6314 Windsor Mill Rd., Baltimore, 21207.
Pub Date: 2/25/99