Charles Dewald, 89, Pimlico trainer worked with horses as a 'labor of love'

November 12, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Charles Dewald, a horse trainer who a friend said got along better with horses "than most people get along with each other" during his more than 40 years at Pimlico racetrack, died Monday of cancer at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson.

Mr. Dewald, 89, of Mayfield in Northeast Baltimore, was part of the patchwork at Pimlico since he was a child, hanging around the stables and learning about horses from stable hands, jockeys and trainers.

"It [training horses] was his labor of love," said his son, James Christian Dewald of Baltimore. "He won some money with it, but it mainly was just something that he always wanted to do."

Colleagues said that Mr. Dewald wasn't a typical horse trainer. He was active with every phase of the horse's care -- often arriving at the stables by 5 a.m. and spending most of the morning helping to care for the horse.

"For instance, on the day of the races, he saddled the horses and boosted the jockeys," his son said. "He was from the old school. He was hands on."

His relationship with horses was simple:

"It's just patience. Horses are flesh and blood. If you hurt them, NTC they'll know it and they'll stay clear of you," he said during a 1991 interview with The Sun.

Clem Florio, a Pimlico oddsmaker who had known Mr. Dewald for many years, said his friend was a good horseman.

"He had good eyes, a good opinion of the horses and a good opinion of personnel," Mr. Florio said. "He always acted like he was going to live to be 1,000."

When Mr. Dewald retired two years ago, he was the state's second-oldest active horse trainer. In addition to Maryland, Mr. Dewald's horses raced at Delaware and New Jersey tracks.

A Baltimore native, Mr. Dewald never finished high school but worked numerous jobs, including ones as a truck driver, real estate developer, restaurateur and owner of a vending machine business.

But while working each job, he trained horses -- and seldom missed a day at the track.

"Horses were his real love," said Sam Briscoe, a longtime friend. "He got along better with horses than most people get along with each other. I think he'd rather be around horses than people because they're less trouble and he could understand them better."

Although Mr. Dewald trained countless horses over the years, perhaps his favorite was Solid Gem, which he owned. Solid Gem came in first at a Laurel racetrack in 1957 and won him $12,000.

"When you walk into that winner's circle," he said in the interview, "then you know you've done the job."

Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Schimunek Funeral Home, 3331 Brehms Lane in Baltimore.

He is survived by his wife, the former Palmina Caprarola, whom he married in 1937; two other sons, Charles Griffith Dewald of East Amherst, N.Y., and Robert Eugene Dewald of Baltimore; and two grandchildren.

Pub Date: 11/12/98

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