ack in action for just under a year, Agua Caliente needed a boost. And Gene Normile had just the shot in the arm — Seabiscuit.
and one-eighth from its usual mile and a quarter. They set the purse at $10,000 and later increased it to $12,500, but both figures were a far cry from the $100,000 once offered. Butfaced with a racehorse of Seabiscuit’s caliber, local trainers were not too keen on running their less-talented horses against him. So, to make the race more attractive, track officials sweetened the place money. The plan seemed to work. Interest grew for the “ten grander,” with stakes winners such as Star Shadow and Whichcee signing up as starters in the race. Trainer Horatio Luro was bringing theSouth American Amor Brujo, a Uruguayan import. The Chilean mare Sahri II, winner of the Hawthorne Gold Cup the previous summer, also was coming to Tijuana. Two days before the race the local paper announced that that afternoon Seabiscuit would work three-quarters of a mile under silks between the second and third
Owned by California Buick distributor C.S. Howard,
Seabiscuit was coming off anarrow loss to Stagehand in the 1938 Santa Anita Handicap, and Howard was looking for a nice spot for his horse to land. After the racing secretary assigned the equine star a heavy 135-pound impost for the San Juan Capistrano, the March 27 Agua Caliente Handicap seemed like a better option. It didn’t hurt that Normile personally had invited Howard to race at Agua Caliente. The fact that the menwere old friends locked the deal. Seabiscuit was coming to Mexico. With business sluggish south of the border, Seabiscuit’s visit made for good publicity, and Normile hoped that having one of the most popular horses in America run in Tijuana would attract a multitude of race fans back to Agua Caliente. Track officials shortened the race to a mile
races. Fans packed the stands to see their hero. For the Agua Caliente Handicap, Seabiscuit had been assigned 130 pounds. In the saddle, Noel Richardson replaced George Woolf, who had ridden Seabiscuit in the Santa Anita Handicap. Stewards had suspended Woolf for striking Johnny Adams, aboard Count Atlas in the Santa Anita Handicap, over the head when Adams angled over on Seabiscuitat the start. Santa Anita stewards set Woolf down for the rest of the meet. In the end, the Agua Caliente Handicap field shaped
The stands were packed for Seabiscuit’s Agua Caliente Handicap.
up with seven outclassed opponents for Seabiscuit. His main opposition was Amor Brujo, the second highweight at 108, and Gray Jack at 103. The racing secretary assigned Top Radio, the only Calienteregular, a featherweight ninety-five pounds, but his jockey couldn’t make the weight, so Top Radio ended up at ninety-eight pounds, a mere thirty-two pounds lighter than Seabiscuit. Little Nymph also was in at ninety-eight pounds, his assigned weight, with Warfellow one pound over at 103 pounds, San Luis Rey at 99 pounds, and Sir
87Seabiscuit helped revive interest in Agua Caliente with his victory there.
Ridgway at 100, after a three-pound overage. Race fans poured over the Mexican border for the race like a swarm of army ants. This seething mass made its way to Agua Caliente, devouring every parking space available. More than 20,000 spectators packed the plant,filling the entire grandstand. To avoid anyone’s being crushed, track officials channeled the overflow to the infield, which had been outfitted with mutuel windows
A jubilant C.S. Howard greeted Seabiscuit in the winner’s circle along with Hollywood stars Arlene Judge and Bing Crosby, holding the race trophy (inset).
and book clerks. Security was added to prevent people from sweeping out...
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