Paul Raymond Fout, a thoroughbred trainer and breeder whose horses won more than 200 races and more than $4 million in prizes, died Aug. 16 at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington County after suffering a stroke. He was 78.
Fout's 60-year career was also dedicated to promoting horse racing in his community. He was manager of the Middleburg Spring Race Association and co-owner of the Middleburg Training Center for thoroughbreds.
"A giant has exited the scene," said Rebecca Tomlinson, a librarian at the National Sporting Library in Middleburg.
Fout's love for horses began as a child in Syracuse, N.Y., where his father ran a riding academy. He went to Syracuse University and settled in the Washington area in the late 1940s.
He started to show horses at a young age, and he met his wife, Eve, who grew up around Warrenton, in the mid-1940s while on the horse-show circuit on the East Coast and in Canada. The couple were married in 1951 and eventually settled outside Middleburg, raising children who inherited their parents' equestrian lifestyle.
Their daughter Nina won a bronze medal in the team three-day event at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Their son, Doug, is a champion racer and trainer based near Middleburg. Another daughter, Virginia, who works in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, said, "I knew how to ride before I could walk." The couple's daughter Karen died in in 1957.
Early in his career, Fout raced horses for several years. By the late 1950s, however, he began training horses and never stopped, even in recent years, when his health started to fail as a result of emphysema and arthritis, Doug Fout said.
Fout trained one of his biggest stars late in life. Colstar won 11 out of 18 races and more than $1 million, including the Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap at Belmont Park in 2000. He trained the horse for Peggy Steinman of Lancaster, Pa., a longtime friend.
Life's Illusion, a horse Fout trained for Virginia Guest, won the Eclipse Award for steeplechasing in 1975, the only mare to earn the honor. Doug Fout won the same award last year with his horse Hirapour.
Fellow horse lovers said Paul Fout was a tireless advocate of horse racing in the area.
"I think in many ways the most important thing Paul did was to keep racing alive in this region, keep it flourishing," said Ken Tomlinson, a horse owner and breeder in Middleburg.
Fout was general manager and former chairman of the Middleburg Spring Races, Virginia's oldest steeplechase, held in April at Glenwood Park. He designed the park's Alfred Hunt course, which is known for its unusual route that goes over water and hills and that allows horses to go both ways along the course.
Fout's wife remembered trips to New Zealand, Australia and France to research race tracks for ideas for the new course. She said that Fout embraced every aspect of horse training and racing.
He started American Racing Publications in 1957, which specializes in advertising thoroughbreds. From 1965 to the early 1970s, he published Spur, a magazine about horse racing in Virginia.
He also helped to organize a group of 11 buyers, himself included, to purchase the Middleburg Training Center from Paul M. Mellon in the early 1970s. The center leases stalls to racehorse trainers and can accommodate more than 200 horses.
Until his death, Fout served on the board of directors of the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which helps to negotiate working conditions for owners and trainers at Colonial Downs.
Friends and family said they will remember Fout for his funny stories and his lack of pretension.
"He could talk to the president or he could talk to the doorman, and he'd give them respect," Doug Fout said.
Fout was also known for his hot temper, which burned out quickly, and a gentle demeanor beneath the exterior.
"He had a quiet way of being" with the horses, his son said. "When he was riding he had very soft hands and a good seat," meaning he never moved against the horse but always kept the same rhythm.
Fout's funeral was Monday. His pine coffin was covered with his racing colors -- orange and yellow -- and placed on a carriage pulled by a four-horse team at Glenwood Park. The carriage proceeded along Foxcroft Road and Route 50 to Sharon Cemetery in Middleburg, where he was buried. A service was held afterward at Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains.
Contributions in Fout's memory can be sent to the Middleburg Spring Race Association, PO Box 1173, Middleburg, Va. 20118, or to the Piedmont Regional Orchestra, PO Box 509, Warrenton, Va. 20188.