Our Thanks To Bill Mac Arthur

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I Was There!

Read the delightful account of this race from someone who was there!

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Yes, it was really great to hear the ’65 Los Angeles Handicap. It really brought back memories for me. My family and I were there on that day. I remember it very well. It was a good Saturday crowd of over 50K on a bright sunny day. We were sitting, ground level, in the rows of benches, located at the head of the stretch.

            My mom had bet her favorite, Native Diver and my dad had bet Viking Spirit. My dad never bet on Native Diver, my mom always did. I believe Viking Sprit was a slim favorite at 7-5. Native Diver was a close second choice at odds of 8-5. Jerry Lambert, as usual, rode “The Diver” and Ken Church rode Viking Spirit. It was a two horse race, right from the get go. When the gates opened they hooked up right away. Native Diver on the rail and Viking Spirit right along side, never more than a length away. I recall the fractions were sizzling. The other horses in the race, which included Santa Anita Handicap winner Hill Rise, couldn’t keep up. I remember how intense the horses and the jockeys were when they flew past us, at the head of the stretch. At that time Native Diver had the advantage by a neck. They drove that way from start to finish.

My dad, the consummate gambler, was really into the race, calling for the “Viking” My mom quietly cheered for the “Big Black Horse”. I remember the excitement of the crowd, the noise level was incredible, and the great call by track announcer Harry Henson. At the end of the race my dad was sure Viking Spirit had won. My mom said very little. It seemed to be a long photo finish. When the totalizator flashed Native Diver’s number, my dad was livid, my mom, quietly ecstatic. As he threw away his tickets, she quietly went to cash hers. The crowd, which was buzzing like bees, was in awe as Harry Henson announced the running time 1:20 for the 7 panels, which at that time equaled the world record.

Horse racing was indeed, great back then. I really miss the way it was. It was a popular part of our everyday lives in Southern California. If you couldn’t visit the track you could always see the Saturday feature race, KNXT, channel 2, sponsored by Union 76. You could also see the stretch run of the daily double and the feature race, during the sports section of the local news. Things were simpler back then. Maybe that’s why we enjoyed the sport so much.

I really appreciate your website. It’s definitely number one. You consistently bring articles, pictures and audio files, which bring back so many wonderful memories. Keep up the good work. I’ll always be grateful for your site.

 

 

                                                Bill     

 

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