Acerbic wit. That is what veteran horse trainer Lou Carno was known for. But when he died at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, April 15 at age 90, he was at peace.
"He was a peace with everything," said his wife of 23 years, Kathy Carno, in a statement released by , "and he died with a smile on his face." Mrs. Carno operates the fittingly named on Duarte Rd. in Arcadia.
Lou, known as the "silver fox," spent an innumerable hours in a different kind of paddock, where he was often spotted with his trademark cigar and biting wit. He was a wit to the end.
According to his wife, Carno had spent the past two years in a Monrovia assisted living facility because he was immobile and resigned to a wheelchair. Nevertheless, he was up to the challenge of roommates and hospital nurses, often chiding them to understand that although his physical state had diminished, mentally, he was, well, with it. But as he began to subside, after surgery, he was returned to Singing Oaks in Monrovia where he spent his final hours.
Although Carno may be gone, he and his exceptional career will live on in race fans' memories and in the stories told by the many friends he made at the track.
Victory Beauty was a gelding who won 30 races, including eight stakes for Carno. According to Santa Anita officials, Carno purchased Victory Beauty for just $3,500 but under his training, the horse went on to win races at Bay Meadow, Golden Gate Fields, Tanforan and every major racetrack in Southern California.
When Victory Beauty retired at age 13, he became the oldest horse to ever win at Santa Anita, retiring in 1969 with earnings that year of $203,491.
Carno is regarded by those who remember him as the consummate horseman, with a wonderful personality as well. In Santa Anita's released statement, Eddie Delahoussaye remembered Carno as "one of the real characters back in the day. He came from the old school," the retired Hall of Fame jockey recalled.
"He never stopped loving horses," Mrs. Carno said.
Lou Carno is survived by three children: Robert, Sharon and Michael and two step-children Jason and Jeremy.
Services will be held Monday, April 25 at Douglas and Zook Mortuary, 600 E. Foothill Blvd., Monrovia. Viewing is at 3:00 p.m. and a memorial service is at 4:00 p.m. A reception follows.