Pete Pedersen, a respected racing official and an Eclipse Award of Merit winner, died Aug. 5 from complications of a recent fall suffered outside his Arcadia, Calif., home. He was 92.
A Seattle native, Pedersen worked at nearly every track on the West Coast, starting at Longacres, where he ran the teletype. He also worked as a publicity director and wrote for publications such as The Blood-Horse, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Daily Racing Form.
"When I saw my first horse race, I thought it was the most exciting, stimulating, throat-clutching, provocative, and inexact spectacle one would ever witness," he recalled. "Nothing since has changed my mind."
“This is a sad day for all of us who knew Pete,” said Santa Anita President George Haines. “Pete Pedersen was a highly respected steward not just because of his judgment, but because of the way he conducted himself and the way he treated all of those that he oversaw from the backside to the top jockeys in the world.
“Pete was a first class guy and while not everyone is going to agree on matters such as disqualifications and riding suspensions, his character was beyond reproach and everyone knew Pete was fair, even-handed and a man of his word. He dedicated his life to racing at a very young age and his love and devotion to the game were always in evidence."
Pedersen is best remembered in his role as a track steward. He was a steward in California for 50 years and served in that capacity in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup in 1984 through 2005.
The 1984 Breeders' Cup, contested at Hollywood Park, featured two disqualifications. The first came in the Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) when Fran's Valentine was disqualified from first to 10th and second-place finisher Outstandingly was moved to first.
In the Classic (gr. I), won by 31-1 Wild Again, Gate Dancer, who was oufitted with a distinctive white hood, finished second but was disqualified for crowding Slew o' Gold in deep stretch and placed third. Slew o’ Gold was moved up to second.
Pedersen, who earned an Eclipse Award of Merit in 2002, is one of two stewards to earn the award, the other being Keene Daingerfield in 1985.
Pedersen also won the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award, which is given to an individual who has served racing with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination, and distinction.
Pedersen, who served in the Navy Air Corps during World War II, is survived by his longtime partner, Marlene Crain, and sons Craig and Michael from a previous marriage.