Georgia Ridder, the first lady of California racing whose millionaire Alphabet Soup upset the mighty Cigar in the 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) in the latter's farewell race, died June 14 of natural causes at her Pasadena, Calif., home. She was 87.
Ridder and her late husband, newspaper publisher B. J. Ridder, started in racing in the late 1950s after moving to the Golden State from New York. They soon turned their attention to breeding horses because "I can breed a better horse than I can buy," said B.J. Ridder.
The proof of that theory was illuminated when homebred Flying Paster dominated California's 2- and 3-year-old division in the late 1970s. Named for a printing process, Flying Paster also gave the great Spectacular Bid some keen competition in several important stakes as a 4-year-old. Flying Paster, who won stakes at five, was retired with millionaire status and developed into a successful California stallion.
After her husband died in 1983, Georgia Ridder bred and raced her runners in the name of Ridder Thoroughbred Stable and took his place on the Oak Tree Racing Association board of directors. Alone and in partnership, she bred 15 stakes winners and campaigned 11 added-money winners.
Alphabet Soup, whom Ridder purchased privately, was the most successful of the ones she campaigned. Alphabet Soup won seven stakes and earned $2,990,270 racing in the distinctive cerise and pink silks. His victory in the 1996 Classic at Woodbine came in track record time of 2:01 flat.
Ridder's other stakes winners included homebred grade I winner Cat's Cradle, who was California's Horse of the Year in 1995. She also campaigned grade II winner Raw Gold. Her most recent added-money winner, Public Domain, won the Pepper Oaks Farm Stakes at Hollywood Park in April.
Ridder, who was born in Baltimore, owned Hidden Springs Ranch near Mountain Center, Calif. She served on the board of the Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena Symphony Association, and Pasadena Planned Parenthood Association. Her survivors include sons Bernard J. Ridder Jr. and Michael Ridder, plus two grandchildren.
The family has asked that memorial contributions be made to The Nature Conservancy of California, 201 Mission Street, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-1832, or to Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada, Calif. 91011.