Where the Heart Is!
Part 1- Part 2

My sincere thanks to
 The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association 
for permission to excerpt this fine 1987 article by Debra Ginsburg 
that those new to the sport of racing may also re-live the moment.

California's ranches and farms,
 have been home to the many great runners the state has produced.

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Ridgewood Ranch

.Ridgewood Ranch,
 home of the immortal Seabiscuit.

(Click to review extraordinary book re Ridgewood Ranch)

Unlike Kentucky, 
California's Thoroughbred breeding industry
 is not limited to a single centralized area. 
Instead, farms and ranches 
stretch from the Oregon border in the far north to San Ysidro near the
 Mexican border in the extreme south. 
Thoroughbreds have also been raised on plots of land that dot the Pacific coastline and green oases in the desert regions this side of the Nevada state line.

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During the 19th century, 
California's temperate climate appealed to horsemen like E. J. (Lucky) Baldwin, Theodore Winters, and James Ben Ali Haggin, 
who were instrumental in bringing Thoroughbred breeding 
to the state. 
Haggin and Winters built ranches in the Sacramento Valley, while Baldwin settled in the San Gabriel Valley on land that now encompasses the cities of Arcadia and Monrovia near 
modern-day Santa Anita. 
Collectively, this early trio of California horsemen bred dozens of national champions at beautiful showplaces that rivaled anything that could be found in the  bluegrass region of Kentucky.

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Haggin, who developed 40,000-acre Rancho del Paso on the banks of the Sacramento River, was once quoted as saying that California's superior climate "surpasses that of Kentucky for raising fine horses. California horses show better performance comparatively, a fact which in attributable to the mild winters which allow growing stock to be kept in open fields while Western horses are forced into the stables." In many ways, Haggin just about summed up the basic philosophies of a century's worth of California Breeders.

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 By the time anti-wagering legislation
drew the curtain on California racing in 1909, Baldwin and Winters
had died and Haggin had left California
to establish the famed Elmendorf Farm in Kentucky.
 Without legalized gambling, California's Thoroughbred breeding industry could not support itself. One by one, those fabulous horse ranches of the West closed down. The handful of breeders that remained quietly kept raising
Thoroughbreds to be raced elsewhere while they waited for racing to
 return to their state.

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Despite the bleak possibilities,
 progress occurred at California breeding farms during the blackout.
Adolph Spreckels bred a crippled colt named Morvich
at his Napa Stock Farm in 1919, a colt who would become the first California-bred Kentucky Derby winner three years later.
 H. D. Brown established one of the most sensational Thoroughbred nurseries since the days of Haggin's Rancho del Paso, Brown's Shasta Farm.
 Built in the shadow of Mt. Shasta, it exemplified the benefits of raising Thoroughbreds in high mountainous terrain.
Tracer and Bistouri, a pair of grandsons of the influential Rock Sand, stood at Brown's facility, and both became outstanding 
sires during the Depression.

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Charles Cooper,
owner of Rancho San Luis Rey in Southern California and a founding director of the California Breeders Association
(forerunner of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association) in 1937, became one of the state's first commercial breeders.

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It took more than a quarter-century
 for the Thoroughbred industry to recover and rebuild.
Horse racing -- complete with pari-mutuel wagering--returned to California in 1933, but horsemen began to 
discover the state's advantages
 as a horse-breeding center a few years earlier.

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Henry P. Russell, the first president of the CBA in 1937,
established the Double H Ranch in the beautiful Carmel Valley in 1930 and stocked it with the best-bred mares and stallions he could buy.
 He purchased Wildair from C. V. Whitney and Sir Andrew from William Woodward in order to add the blood of Broomstick, Sir Gallahad III, and Peter Pan to California pedigrees. Unfortunately, both stallions proved dismal failures,
although several of Wildair's daughters became stakes producers and their names can still be found in the far reaches of many California-bred families today.

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Part 2