CTBA Hall to Induct Mabees, Maddy, Best Pal, Free House

(from CTBA release)
The late breeder John Mabee and his wife Betty Mabee, deceased legislator Ken Maddy, and the racing stars Best Pal and Free House have been elected to the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Hall of Fame.

The CTBA is reviving its Hall of Fame after 19 years. The initial class of 36 horses and people influential in the state's breeding and racing program were inducted in 1987. This year's group will be inducted at the annual meeting and awards banquet on Feb. 5, 2007.

The Mabees have produced more than 200 stakes winners, with Betty Mabee and her son continuing to operate Golden Eagle Farm on a somewhat smaller scale since the death of John Mabee in 2002. Together, the Mabees ranked as the leading breeders in California for 18 consecutive years and also made a mark nationally, winning three Eclipse Awards. They started Golden Eagle Farm in 1972 and have expanded it to 835 acres in Eastern San Diego County. John Mabee was president and chairman of the board of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and was a founding member of the board of directors of Breeders' Cup.

The top horse bred and raced by the Mabees was Best Pal, the all-time leading Cal-bred earner when he retired with more than $5.6 million and three-time Cal-bred horse of the year. Stakes winners bred by the Mabees include multiple Grade I winner General Challenge; multiple graded winner Notable Career; Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Early Pioneer; Doneraile Court, Feathered Friend, Meiner Love, Precious Peace, Singing Year, and Time to Meet. Other top horses bred and/or raced by the Mabees include Souvenir Copy, Annual Reunion, Golden Treat, Johnica, Dramatic Gold, Likeable Style, Jeanne Jones, Beautiful Glass, Fine Spirit, River Special, and Fantastic Look.

The gelding Best Pal, a son of Habitony, won 18 of 47 starts. As a 2-year-old, he won the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I), making him the youngest millionaire in Cal-bred history. He was second to Strike the Gold in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) the following year and was transferred later that year to trainer Gary Jones. Best Pal beat Unbridled and Twilight Agenda to win the inaugural Pacific Classic (gr. I). As a 4-year-old he won the Strub (gr. I), the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), and the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. I) to surpass Snow Chief as the all-time Cal-bred earnings leader. He suffered a fractured splint bone finishing fourth in the Pimlico Special (gr. I), but was named Cal-bred horse of year for the third time. He came back from the injury to beat Bertrando in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) at age 5, then won the Cal Cup Classic. Sent to Richard Mandella, Best Pal continued to be a major factor in the Southern California handicap division until his retirement at 7. In 1998, while serving as a stable pony at Golden Eagle Farm, Best Pal died of a heart attack. More than 300 people attended a memorial service for him there.

Ken Maddy represented California's Central Valley in the Sacramento legislature for nearly 30 years. He wrote 45 bills during his legislative career that directly benefited the racing industry in California. In 1984, he authored the bill that brought satellite wagering to California for the first time. This was the first in a series of bills written and/or supported by the former state senator that was destined to change the landscape of racing. Another bill written by Maddy, passed in 1997, provided the racing industry with much-needed license fee relief. Shortly before he left office, he wrote a bill that paved the way for full card simulcasting. Maddy died of lung cancer in 2000 at age 65 without seeing the best horse he bred run. That was Moscow Burning, co-bred with Harris Farms, who went on to break the record for most earnings by a Cal-bred female.

Free House, bred by John Toffan and CTBA director Trudy McCaffery, was twice Cal-bred horse of the year with earnings of $3 million. Free House defeated Silver Charm in the 1997 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), beginning a rivalry between the grays that would last throughout their careers. Free House beat Silver Charm again in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), earning a trip to Kentucky, where he finished third in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) won by Silver Charm. He then lost by a head to Silver Charm in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), becoming a millionaire in the process. Third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) behind Touch Gold and Silver Charm, Free House's in-the-money finish throughout the Triple Crown earned him his first Cal-bred horse of the year honors. At age 4, he won the Pacific Classic (gr. I). At 5 he beat Silver Charm in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I). But he strained a back muscle in the Pimlico Special (gr. I) later that year and was retired to stand stud at Vessels Stallion Farm. Free House's first crop of foals included House of Fortune, a grade II winner of nearly $1 million. But his promising second career was cut short when he died in a freak accident at the farm in 2004.