By Julie Sarno
Horses make the world go round for Tom and Marnye Blincoe. Tom trains a stable of racehorses and Marnye manages the Del Mar Horse Park. The couple lives in Rancho Santa Fe.
Tom currently is based at Del Mar, where the red and white colors of his tack boxes and stall webbings brighten the shedrow. After the Del Mar season, he is based at Santa Anita and keeps an apartment there to prevent daily commuting.
"To be in the horse business, you have to be competitive and devoted," said Blincoe. His routine includes rising at 4 a.m. each morning and arriving at the barn before 5 a.m. every day of the year, holidays included.
When Blincoe began training, most trainers worked for one client. Nowadays, most train public stables, conditioning horses for many owners. Blincoe, however, trains exclusively for Richard and Sandy Bell of Norman, Oklahoma.
"I met him at the Barrett's sale in 1995 or 1996," said Blincoe. "We just hit it off. He races in California where the racing is the best in the world. We breed Cal-breds and have six mares to take advantage of the breeders' awards program. We rarely claim or buy horses now."
Blincoe fell in love with horses and racing as a boy growing up in Kentucky. When not in school he was whitewashing fences surrounding lush green pastures at famed bluegrass horse farms. One summer during his high school years, Blincoe worked for the Maine Chance Farm of cosmetics company founder Elizabeth Arden. Known to be a tough taskmaster, Arden doted on her horses and often visited them when in Lexington.
"We called her Old Lady Lipstick," recalled Blincoe. "I had a pet raccoon then, named Trouble, because he all he ever did was cause trouble. He jumped down and grabbed her leg. She was really startled. All she said was 'Who owns this raccoon?' I told her I did. I thought she was going to fire me but she didn't."
While in college at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Blincoe worked for trainer Pete Battle when he conditioned Sweet Patootie, champion 2-year-old filly of 1952 and, later, the top filly Mommy Dear, who won 11 of 24 races and $104,424 - a lot of money in the late 1950s.
Blincoe moved to California to train horses and by the late 1960s had a number of good horses. Blincoe's top horses included Delaware Chief, a horse he trained for the Dansar Stable of Frank Sinatra, entertainment lawyer Micky Rudin and Danny Swartz, who owned Boise Cascade.
"Frank Sinatra was a super guy to work for," recalled Blincoe. "His mother loved the horses and was at the races every day. Things were not the same after his mother was killed in the plane crash."
Blincoe syndicated Delaware Chief at the end of his racing career in 1972, saying it was the first stallion syndication in California. Another Hollywood figures Blincoe trained for was Bob Quigley, an avid racing fan who (with Merrill Heatter) created, owned and produced the classic television game show Hollywood Squares.