11/07/2013 3:02PM

Kjell Qvale, longtime owner-breeder, dies at age 94

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Kjell Qvale, a Norwegian-born automotive executive who operated a prominent racing stable in Northern California for more than 40 years, died Saturday in San Francisco.

Qvale, who was born in Norway and moved to the United States in 1929, was 94. A World War II veteran, Qvale opened the first Jaguar dealership in California and imported other European automotive brands such as MG, Austin, and Rolls Royce. He also was influential in the development of the San Francisco Auto Show.

With Thoroughbreds, Qvale was an owner and breeder in California, racing such notable runners as Variety Road, who won 17 of 59 starts and earned $964,540; and Variety Baby, who won 9 of 20 starts and earned $449,570.

Qvale had horses with trainers such as Bruce Headley and Jerry Hollendorfer and was a member of the board of directors at Golden Gate Fields. He owned a Thoroughbred farm in Napa Valley, Calif. Silky Sullivan, winner of the 1958 Santa Anita Derby, stood at Qvale’s farm.

Qvale had an active stable at the time of his passing. The Headley-trained Carlsbad Mountain won a $50,000 claiming race for maidens for Qvale at Santa Anita on Oct. 20.