Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will rename the Ramona Handicap in honor of the late John C. Mabee, a founding member, president, and chairman of the organization that operates the seaside racetrack.
The name change of the filly and mare race to the John C. Mabee Ramona Handicap will take effect with this year's renewal of the grade I race on July 27.
A three-time Eclipse Award winner as outstanding breeder, Mabee died in April. In addition to serving Del Mar, Mabee operated a successful racing and breeding operation from his Golden Eagle Farm, a 586-acre spread in Ramona, California.
"If ever a man deserved to be honored by having a race named for him, it is John Mabee," said Del Mar's president and general manager, Joe Harper. "John was Del Mar itself in so many ways, and his love for this place and all the hard work he put into it have made it the spectacular success it is today. John's spirit will always be with us and now his name will carry on, too, in a special filly-mare race that a world-class breeder like John would
Since its inaugural running in 1945, the 1 1/8 turf test Ramona has been won by top fillies and mares, including Desert Trial, Street Dancer, Tizna, Queen to Conquer, Sangue, Brown Bess, Flawlessly (three times), Possibly Perfect and Escena.
Mabee was among the group of California owners and breeders that took over operation of Del Mar racetrack in 1970. In 1978 he became DMTC's president and in 1990 its chairman of the board, a title he held until his voluntary resignation in December 2001.
Under Mabee's direction, daily average handle at Del Mar grew from less than $1 million per day to more than $12 million daily and average daily attendance increased from less than 9,700 per day to more than 29,000 (including attendance at satellite locations).