(Edited press release)
After an absence of more than 55 years, a classic, life-sized bronze sculpture of the legendary racehorse Seabiscuit has started its long journey home to Ridgewood Ranch in Willits, Calif.
To be transported by a historic, fully restored Seabiscuit-era truck and van once used at the ranch, the sculpture left from Atlas Bronze Castings in Salt Lake City. In a takeoff on Seabiscuit’s old whistlestop tours across the country, it will visit key sites in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area before a police-escorted arrival in Willits April 18. There, a final “whistlestop” will be held aboard a Northwest Pacific caboose.
Representing the tour sponsor, the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation, will be Jacqueline Cooper, owner and breeder of the American Legend Horse Farm which is raising Seabiscuit’s descendants, and Foundation president Tracy Livingston. The foundation is a nonprofit group formed to protect and preserve the historic buildings and natural resources of the remaining 5,000 acres of the Howard Ranch.
“Not since 1951 has the statue of Seabiscuit reigned proudly over the ranch where he spent the final years of his racing career and life,” said Livingston. “We couldn’t be happier and more honored to be the people bringing him back.”
Famed Western artist and sculptor Hughlette “Tex” Wheeler cast two statues from Seabiscuit in 1940-41 while the horseracing legend was still alive. Salt Lake and San Francisco Bay Area sculptors crafted a replica of the original statue and granite pedestal from an original at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs. Carrying the statue will be a registered California historical vehicle, a 1948 Diamond T Model 201 fitted with a horse van designed and built by Superior Body. The basic model was in use from 1939-1949.
Chris and Anita Lowe of Bishopstone, Wiltshire, England, benefactors of the foundation and collectors of Seabiscuit memorabilia, provided funding for the monument, which will be formally unveiled at the ranch June 23.
“Seabiscuit-the Homecoming Tour” will make the following ceremonial visits, with most strongly connected to the legacy of Seabiscuit and his owner, Charles Howard. A bugler will sound a "Call to Post" at many stops. All times are Pacific.
Las Vegas – April 11, 1 p.m.
Oasis RV Resort (Photo op only)
Los Angeles, April 13
Hollywood Park (1 –3 p.m.)
The Derby (5:30 p.m.) (Owned by Seabiscuit jockey George Woolf)
Los Angeles, April 14, 8 - 9 a.m.
Santa Anita Park (Drive By Only) (Site of great Seabiscuit triumph)
San Francisco Bay Area, April 15, 12- 4 p.m.
Bay Meadows Racecourse (Site of some of Seabiscuit’s great triumphs)
San Francisco Bay Area, April 16, 9:30 a.m.
The Shops at Tanforan (Site of Seabiscuit’s California arrival)
Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma (Gravesite of Seabiscuit's owner, Charles Howard)
V. Fontana Fine Granite and Marble, Colma (Maker of original, replica granite pedestals for statue)
San Francisco Chronicle Building (drive by) (Recognize press role in Seabiscuit story)
Hearst Building (drive by) (Recognize press role, preservation organizations in building)
Ruth’s Chris Steak House (Howard auto dealership site, Horse owner Harry Aleo to join)
San Francisco Bay Area, April 17, 8:15 a.m.
Crossing of Golden Gate Bridge and Vista Point (Photo op)
Blackie’s Pasture, Statue, Tiburon (Two horses who stood their ground)
Larson Family Winery, Sonoma Valley (Site of Seabiscuit exerciser birthplace, home -- Buster Millerick)
Glen Ellen Vocational Academy, Sonoma Valley (Importance of rehab to Seabiscuit)
Conclusion, April 18, 10:30 a.m.
Sonoma County Fairgrounds and Racetrack (Seabiscuit-era track)