Seabiscuit Statue Returned Home After 55 Years

Descendants of the owner, trainer, and jockey of Seabiscuit paid tribute to the legendary American racehorse June 23 as a life-sized bronze sculpture of the horse was unveiled and formally dedicated at Ridgewood Ranch in Willits, Calif.

The private ceremony took place more than 55 years after a Seabiscuit statue had been removed from the ranch where the horse legend spent his final racing and retirement years, died, and was buried.

Retired Marine Col. Michael Howard, great grandson of the horse's owner, Charles Howard, read a statement from Laura Hillenbrand, whose best-selling book rekindled national interest in the horse and led to an Academy Award-nominated film.

"I can say with perfect certainty that nothing could have thrilled (Charles Howard) more than to see people gather here at his beloved ranch to dedicate a statue crafted to celebrate Seabiscuit and to carry the horse's legend forward to new generations," said Hillenbrand. "May the world never forget the magnificent Seabiscuit."

Along with Col. Howard, other speakers at the June 23 event were: Harry Aleo, owner of Lost in the Fog; Joan Mondale, official representative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; John Pollard Sr., nephew of Seabiscuit jockey Red Pollard; Anthea Hartig, western director, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Jani Buron, former ranch resident and author of The Spirit of Seabiscuit; and Bill Nichols, former ranch hand and author of Seabiscuit--The Rest of the Story. Former Vice President Walter Mondale also attended the ceremony.

Dashing Lil'Biscuit, a Seabiscuit descendant, made a brief appearance.

Representing the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation were Jacqueline Cooper, owner and breeder of the American Legend Horse Farm, which is raising Seabiscuit's descendants, and Foundation President Tracy Livingston. The foundation is a nonprofit group formed to protect and preserve the historic buildings and natural resources of the remaining 5,000 acres of the Howard Ranch.

Famed Western artist and sculptor Hughlette "Tex" Wheeler cast two statues from Seabiscuit during 1940 and 1941, while the horseracing legend was still alive. In February 1941, Seabiscuit himself helped unveil the second statue at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California where it remains in the garden paddock area. The Howard family donated the other sculpture to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Custom design statue makers, Icon Bronze of Anchorage, Alaska and its affiliate, Atlas Bronze Casting of Salt Lake City, made a replica of the original in Saratoga Springs from a new rubber and fiberglass mold.

Chris and Anita Lowe of Bishopstone, Wiltshire U.K., foundation benefactors and collectors of Seabiscuit memorabilia, generously provided funding for the monument.

The general public can view the statue for the first time on Saturday, June 30. Reservations must be made in advance at 707/459-7910.

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