RIDGEWOOD RANCH DIAMOND TOUR CELEBRATING THE LEGACY OF AN AMERICAN ICON
A Benefit In Celebration of Seabiscuit’s 75 th Birthday
Festivities set for May
Willits, CA, April 9, 2008 – The Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation and Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital, built by Charles S. Howard owner of the horse racing legend Seabiscuit 80 years ago, are slated to benefit from a special Ridgewood ranch tour and reception in honor of Seabiscuit’s 75 th birthday. Festivities are to be held at champ’s historic home and final resting place in northern California this spring.
Coincidently, Seabiscuit’s 75 th birthday marks Howard Memorial Hospital’s 80 th anniversary. Howard, grief stricken at the tragic loss of his son’s life in an automobile accident, built the Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital at the advice of his friend and Willits physician “Doc Babcock”. Doc believed had there been a hospital in the immediate vicinity at the time of the tragedy, young Frankie’s life might have been spared. 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. The following year, horse and jockey won the most electrifying horse race of the time – the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap.
Artisan 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 www.seabiscuitheritage.org dedicated to preserving the historical buildings and landscapes that constitute Seabiscuit’s legacy and the Howard Foundation www.howardfoundation.org 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 until 1950 stood prominently at Seabiscuit’s home and final resting place, 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.
“Stan Watts of Atlas Bronze also deserves a large degree of credit when I spoke to him of doing a similar life-size statue at Howard Memorial Hospital to honor my Great Grandfather Charles S. Howard & Doc Babcock.” explains Col. Howard. In addition, plans are being made for a bronze sculpture depicting the portrait of “Little Frank R. Howard and Puppies” on display in the lobby entrance for the encouragement and delight of children. “It is a pretty significant milestone. 80 years later here we are trying to get the same thing accomplished, for the next 80 years.” adds Janet Lamprich, Executive Director of Howard Foundation.
“Bottom line: this is a TEAM EFFORT.” said Howard, an advocate of creating an open atmosphere of freedom and discussion to improve on good ideas. “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 including the unveiling of the two small bronze statues of Seabiscuit are planned on Saturday, May 24, 2008 at Ridgewood Ranch with a reception following at the Mendocino County Museum in Willits, California. This 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. Major underwriters include: Mendocino Country Farm Supply, Larson Family Winery and GlenMoor Enterprises.
Still a working ranch, Ridgewood has been designated one of America’s most threatened historic places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation is now working with the current owners, the National Trust, and others to develop an overall preservation and resource management plan and identify funding sources.