Another season of guided historic walking tours are offered at Seabiscuit's home, Ridgewood Ranch, a few miles south of Willits where Hwy 101 bisects the 5,000-acre property. “We are very grateful for our newest additions,” said Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation President, Jacqueline Cooper. Seabiscuit descendant, Bronze Sea, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred mare, for one is in foal. The mare, along with a handful of other Lil' Biscuit's that descend from the legendary racehorse, are privately owned and available for viewing during seasonal tours.
“It has been a miracle of sorts finding a suitable sire. We originally planned to breed Bronze Sea to Lucky Pulpit, sire of California Chrome.” said Cooper. Lucky Pulpit's untimely passing at age 16 prompted a whirlwind stallion tour to find a suitable mate for Bronze Sea. Many expressed support including best-selling author Laura Hillenbrand and others who spent hours researching stallion prospects. “I am honored to have Laura's support. She has been such a good friend throughout this entire process.” beamed Cooper. Other experts chimed in, including pedigree consultant, Alan Porter, co-creator of the TrueNicks system, personally provided key information about select sire and broodmare sire lines and Ellen Parker, noted for her reins-de-course work, provided a detailed pedigree analysis and mating recommendations based on Bronze Sea's female family. DNA analysis by Dr. Steven Tammariello of ThoroughGen and the Institute of Equine Genomics was also quite revealing about Bronze Sea's propensity for speed and endurance. “Based on DNA analysis Bronze Sea's energy-production genes are above average, which is good for aerobic capacity of her offspring.” said Cooper. The trait is said to be consistent with that of champions.
“If we have learned anything through this experience, it is this, when fate turns unexpectedly, we are given an opportunity to learn more and to make the most of it. While I was deeply grieved at the passing of Lucky Pulpit and the process of choosing another stallion was not without challenges, we were shown such wonderful and unexpected support. It all worked out in the end.” Unexpected offers included a free breeding to Rousing Sermon by the owners of Lucky Pulpit and Gervinho at Legacy Ranch. Finnegan's Wake was also offered for free to Lucky Pulpit booked mares.
After considering all of these stallions and more, Cooper finally settled on the Brazilian bred, Einstein, winner of California's richest race, 2009 Santa Anita Handicap. “So fitting that she is in foal to a stallion who won the race that became Seabiscuit's greatest quest.” wrote Laura Hillenbrand in a congratulatory note to Cooper. Einstein who hales from Adena Springs, bears that honor and won the Santa Anita Handicap at age 7, as Seabiscuit once did. A late bloomer, he exhibits some of Seabiscuit's best traits, including strength, toughness and endurance. Interesting, too, this son of Spend A Buck, may also represent the best of the War Admiral line via Buckpasser, not to mention he is a true black beauty. Bronze Sea's foal is due next May. Cooper would very much like to campaign the foal to increase awareness of the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation and its mission.
Cooper added a second mare to their modest Thoroughbred breeding program, Washington-bred Giselle. “Giselle, was advertised as a retiring racehorse of the pacific northwest.” The grey mare is of the rare Seabiscuit line through her stakes winning sire, Atta Boy Roy, and descends from one of the greatest broodmares of the 20th century, La Troienne. “She is such a beautiful filly. Only three years old and racing trim, she will be turned out at Ridgewood this summer, allowed to grow and mature.” said Cooper. “We feel very blessed to have her here.”
The horses descending from Seabiscuit are included in guided tours, along with several of the historic buildings still remaining from the Seabiscuit and Howard era. “It is the goal of the foundation to preserve and protect the cultural legacy of Ridgewood Ranch.” said the SHF president. The Carriage house is currently in the final phase of rehabilitation thanks to a generous contribution of Lloyd Schwing in the memory of his late wife, Anne Marie. The project is spearheaded by SHF chairman and long time ranch resident, Tracy Livingston. “In keeping the Secretary of Interior standards of rehabilitation, we try to use as many of the original materials as possible”, said Livingston. 16 original bi-fold doors will be beautifully restored and reinstalled with the help of P&K Woodworks in Redwood Valley and Menton Builders.
A new stud barn roof for Seabiscuit's stud barn, now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is slated in 2018 to prevent the building from deteriorating. “We are in a race against time”, said Cooper, ”this is the reason why the foundation is doing the work of historic preservation and land conservation. We don't want any of this to be lost. The historic buildings, the grounds, they should all be enjoyed by future generations long after we are gone.” Tour proceeds are in support of this quest. Seabiscuit's stud barn, historic Howard House, the Carriage house and old growth Redwood grove are also available for private events rentals in support of historic preservation. For tour information and reservations visit www.seabiscuitheritage.org
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