12/18/2012 11:26AM

Larry Mabee of Golden Eagle Farm dies at 69

Barbara D. Livingston
Larry Mabee accepts Hall of Fame honors for the Golden Eagle Farm homebred Best Pal in 2010.

Southern California owner and breeder Larry Mabee, son of the late California Racing Hall of Fame members John and Betty Mabee and owner of Golden Eagle Farm, died at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., on Sunday from prostate cancer. He was 69.

Born on March 25, 1943, Mabee grew up at his parents’ Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona, located in San Diego County. He mainly worked in real estate and managed the family’s Big Bear supermarket chain during the 1980s and 1990s, but assumed management of Golden Eagle in 2002 after his father John died. In subsequent years Mabee downsized the farm’s operations while still maintaining a strong and valuable presence in the industry his parents helped to create.

John and Betty Mabee led California breeders’ earnings list for 19 consecutive years, still hold the all-time owners’ mark at Del Mar for wins at six meets, received Eclipse Awards three times as outstanding breeder – in 1991, 1997, and 1998 – and were voted Breeder of the Year in 1997 by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. Betty Mabee died in February 2010.

Golden Eagle was renowned for its homebreds, and most prominent among its many top-class horses was Best Pal, who won 17 stakes races and earned more than $5.6 million during the early 1990s. Best Pal won the inaugural running of the Pacific Classic, Del Mar’s signature race, in 1991 as a 3-year-old racing against older horses and also captured six Grade 1 stakes. Larry Mabee accepted the honors for Best Pal when the gelding was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2010.

Other accomplished Golden Eagle homebreds included the filly Excellent Meeting, a four-time Grade 1 winner, and General Challenge, a three-time Grade 1 winner. Both were sired by the Golden Eagle stallion General Meeting, who appeared regularly at or near the top of the state’s general sire list before he was pensioned in 2005.

More recently, Mabee and his mother bred 2010 Ashland Stakes and Del Mar Oaks winner Evening Jewel.

Golden Eagle currently stands the stallions Stormin Fever and Unbridled Energy.

Mabee married Christine Penrod, the twin sister of Madeleine Paulson Pickens, earlier this month. He is survived by three children from a previous marriage, daughters Laura and Melissa, and a son, John.

The family said a private service for immediate family would be held. There will be no public service.

– additional reporting by Jay Privman