Feast and Famine
1937 - 1944 
Part 2

A Time To Remember

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My sincere thanks to 
The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association 
for permission to use excerpt their article of June 1987 that those new 
to the sport of racing may also re-live the moment.

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Feast and Famine 1937 -1944 by Jay Hovdey

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The stage was set for Seabiscuit's second try at the Santa Anita Handicap, and again--as in 1937--he looked like a winner at the eighth pole.             

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But as fierce ride by Jack Westrope on Santa Anita Derby winner Stagehand upset the day. Getting a 30-pound pull in the weights, 130 to 100, three-year-old Stagehand beat Seabiscuit by a nose. No other horse ever won both the Santa Anita Derby and Handicap in the same season.
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Seabiscuit sat out most of the 1939 campaigne nursing injuries. He was back for one last try, though, in the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap, and his primary oppossition came from defending champ Kayak II. Fortunately, Kay II and Seabiscuit both were owned by Howard who openly declared that if it came down to his two runners, he preferred his old champion to win.

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Seabiscuit, under 130 pounds, dispatched on front-running Whichcee at the furlong marker and went on to win by a length over Kayak II. Leon Haas, riding Kayak II, accomplished his task to perfection, doing just enough to secure second money of $20,000 (the largest runner-up purse in the country) while allowing Seabiscuit the spotlight to himself.
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Seabiscuit never ran again, but his impact on the California ravcing scene reverberated through the years. He was the first true superstar gate draw of West Coast racing. More than 70,000 fans came out to watch him in the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap. As such, he was the presursor of such California folk heros as Swaps, Native Diver, Cougar II and John Henry.
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In 1938, Seabiscuit put Del Mar on the national map with his thrilling decision over Ligaroti in a special match race. Seabiscuit was also a star at Hollywood Park, where he added his considerable presence to the inaugural season of 1938 by winning the $56,150 Hollywood Gold Cup.
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Even though Santa Anita was an established fact, backers of Hollywood Park, had experienced an uphill battle getting their track off the ground. As early as January of 1937, the CHRB gave in to pressure from civic and religious groups and rescinded the Hollywood Turf Club's license -- and this after the Turf Club had spent $300,000 on the project.
And so the California circuit matured, with two tracks operating in the north and three in the south. The racing industry was booming. Then, shortly before Santa Anita was to open its 1941-1942 season, the United States declared war on the Japanese Empire. California racing was among the first domestic casualties.
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Santa Anita was put to use as an intenment camp for Japanese Americans. Later it was turned into a military base. Part of the track was paved to test military vehicles. Hollywood Park was leased to North American Aviation. Tanforan was used as an advanced navy training station. And Del Mar became  a training site for U. S. Marines.

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