The Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation and Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital – built 80 years ago by Charles S. Howard, owner of Seabiscuit – are slated to benefit from a special Ridgewood Ranch tour and reception in honor of the legendary runner’s 75th birthday. Festivities are to be held at Seabiscuit’s historic home and final resting place in northern California this spring.
Coincidently, the 'Biscuit's 75th birthday marks Howard Memorial Hospital’s 80th anniversary. Howard, grief stricken at the tragic loss of his son in an automobile accident, built the Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital at the advice of his friend and Willits physician “Doc Babcock,” who believed young Frankie's life might have been spared had there been a hospital in the immediate vicinity at the time of the tragedy.
Howard subsequently built and served on the hospital’s board of directors after its completion in 1928. Seabiscuit’s own famed jockey Red Pollard spent recovery time at Frank R. Howard Memorial hospital after sustaining a bone-shattering injury. Doctors said he might never ride again, but the following year, horse and jockey won the most electrifying horse race of the time – the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap.
Artisans Kim Corpany and Stan Watts of Salt Lake City, Utah are now crafting two commemorative mini bronze sculptures featuring the legendary racehorse in honor of his two great jockeys, Pollard and George Woolf. The statues will be offered for sale in support of the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation – dedicated to preserving the historical buildings and landscapes that constitute Seabiscuit’s legacy – and the Howard Foundation, currently raising funds to build a new state of the art teaching hospital facility.
An exact replica of the original life-size statue and granite base that stood prominently at Seabiscuit’s home and final resting place until 1950 has already been installed as a memorial to the equestrian giant at Ridgewood Ranch in Willits, California.
“Hopefully the purchasing and collecting public who loves the Biscuit legend will agree as this will help two wonderful causes.” adds retired Marine Col. Michael Howard, a member of the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation board of directors. Col. Howard first had the idea to commission a statue in the likeness of Seabiscuit when he heard about plans to build a new Howard hospital. “Bottom line, this is a team effort. I learned in the Marine Corps and Iraq that no good plan stays static, it evolves with other good input. I believe this is also how my great-grandfather sold Buicks and the public on a funny little horse with a big heart.”
Festivities are planned for Saturday, May 24, at Ridgewood Ranch with a reception following at the Mendocino County Museum in Willits, California. The event sponsored by the Willits Chamber of Commerce and the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation is by reservation only. For ticket information contact the Willits Chamber of Commerce at 707.459.7910 or visit www.willits.org.