Horse Lovers and Wagerers

September 2, 2011

Books, California, News

Del Mar Racetrack’s 2011 season closing day is just around the corner, but you can still enjoy the good times in Hank Wesch’s book Del Mar: Where the Turf Meets the Surf (History Press, 2011).

Best Pal was born in 1988 about thirty miles from the Del Mar track at the Golden Eagle Farm, in Ramona, of John and Betty Mabee, the first couple of racing in San Diego, the patron and matron of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for nearly three decades. Growthy and of an ornery temperament, Best Pal was gelded early on “because we wanted him to be a racehorse,” John Mabee said. And what a racehorse he turned out to be.

Best Pal’s eighteen victories from 1990 to 1995 included the Del Mar Futurity and Hollywood Futurity as a two-year-old; Swaps Stakes at Santa Anita and the inaugural Pacific Classic at Del Mar as a three-year-old; and the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup as an older horse.

Best Pal was the first and finest in a line of Golden Eagle color bearers that made the Mabees winners of Eclipse Awards as national champion breeders in 1991, 1997 and 1998 and the leading owners for the Del Mar meeting six times from 1990 to 1999.

“A lot of people don’t realize we didn’t go out and buy runners, we bred and raised runners,” Larry Mabee said of his late parents at the Hall of Fame ceremony. “This represents what the family did for the sport. We raised what we bred.”

While you’re enjoying the Del Mar 2011 racing season finale, look for Hank Wesch reporting from the backstretch, or stop by the gift shop to check out Del Mar: Where the Turf Meets the Surf.

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