03/23/2012 7:38PM

Everett, former Hollywood Park chairwoman, dies at age 90


Marjorie Everett, the former chairwoman of Hollywood Park, died of complications of old age at her home in the west side of Los Angeles on Friday morning, two of her friends said. She was 90, and had been in frail health. In recent months, Everett had dealt with memory and mobility issues, her friends said.

A native of Albany, N.Y., who was adopted at the age of 10 months, Everett spent her adult life in horse racing, in the Midwest and California. She lived in Southern California after leaving racetrack management in 1991.

Raised in the Midwest, Everett left Northwestern University in 1939 to join the racetrack management team at Arlington and Washington parks in Chicago, which were owned by her father, Benjamin Lindheimer. She took over as chairwoman of those two tracks, and Balmoral Park in Crete, Ill., following his death in 1960. Washington Park was later closed.

Everett left Chicago racing in the mid-1970s, selling her stake in Arlington and Balmoral, and moved to Southern California, where she acquired stock in Hollywood Park and joined management.

Current Hollywood Park general manager Eual Wyatt Jr. worked for Everett as a racing secretary in the 1980s and early 1990s. Wyatt said on Friday that Everett “loved racing more than anyone I’ve been around.”

“She was very demanding to work for,” he said. "She really loved racing. Sometimes, she came off a little bit rough. She was extremely sensitive to look out for the desires of the horsemen and the public.”

Everett was an aggressive marketer – conducting merchandise giveaways, including a tote bag day in 1980 that drew an all-time track record attendance of 80,348; initiating a carryover provision to the pick six, then known as the perfect six, in 1983; and luring the first Breeders’ Cup to Hollywood Park in 1984.

In 1988, under Everett’s direction, Hollywood Park offered the first nighttime Thoroughbred program in Southern California in conjunction with the track’s 50th anniversary. The program drew a season-high attendance that year of more than 40,000.

The track hosted the third Breeders’ Cup in 1987 under Everett’s management, but has held the event only once since then, in 1997. By then, Everett had left management of Hollywood Park.

She resigned as chairwoman, chief executive, and president of Hollywood Park in February 1991, after losing a contentious proxy battle with R.D. Hubbard. She did not have an official involvement in racing in subsequent years, but remained close to many people involved in the sport until her death.

She made very few visits to Hollywood Park in recent years, but did attend retirement ceremonies for Hall of Fame jockeys Chris McCarron and Laffit Pincay Jr.

Everett also raced Thoroughbreds, most notably Stardust Mel, who won the Santa Anita Handicap and Charles H. Strub Stakes at Santa Anita in 1975. Stardust Mel was ridden by Everett’s good friend, the late Bill Shoemaker.

Everett was preceded in death by her husband, Webb Everett, a former racing secretary at Santa Anita.

Services are pending.