10/26/2011 5:47PM

Mace Siegel, owner and California track fixture, dead at 86


Mace Siegel, the shopping mall owner who operated a successful Thoroughbred stable with his family, died at his Beverly Hills home of heart failure on Wednesday, according to a friend of the family.

Siegel was 86. He had recently returned home after a monthlong hospitalization.

A native of New Jersey, Siegel, with his family, raced such horses as the 2004 champion male, Declan's Moon, and the Grade 1 stakes winners Boys At Tosconova, Hedonist, I Ain't Bluffing, I Believe In You, Miss Iron Smoke, Rail Trip, Stormy But Valid, and Urbane. The family's blue and lime green silks have been a familiar sight for decades in major races nationwide and especially in California, where Siegel lived for the last 45 years. Earlier this month, the Siegel family's Redeemed won the Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park.

The Siegel family bred horses and was also active at sales, particularly in Maryland.

Siegel was a fixture at California tracks, especially at Hollywood Park, where he kept the same table in the turf club for years. He became a racing fan as a young man, going to tracks in the New York and New Jersey area, an interest he shared with his wife, Jan. They met on a blind date at Aqueduct in 1962.

Mace and Jan Siegel bought their first horse in 1964, and won their first stakes in 1976, at Calder. The family made a greater commitment to bloodstock through yearling acquisitions in the late 1980's, at a time when their adult daughter, Samantha, became involved.

From 1977 to 1995, the Siegel family horses were trained by Brian Mayberry. In 1989, the Siegels and Mayberry won three $100,000 races on the undercard of the Breeders' Cup races at Gulfstream Park.

In business, Siegel owned Macerich company of Santa Monica, Calif., a publicly traded real estate investment trust that owns and manages shopping centers in the United States. Siegel was involved in the business aspects of horse racing, as one of the founders of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, when the group was formed in the early 1990's.

Though no longer on TOC's board of directors in recent years, Siegel still made his voice heard on management issues at times. Last year, when Santa Anita owner Frank Stronach said he no longer wanted to lease the track to outside tenants, such as the Oak Tree Racing Association, Siegel pleaded publicly with Stronach at a California Horse Racing Board meeting to reverse his decision, which he did. In the end, however, Oak Tree did not race at Santa Anita in 2010 because of concern over that track's surface.

In recent years, Siegel kept a lower profile at the races, while Samantha kept a presence by visiting the family's horses in the barns, and attending races. The family's runners have been trained in recent years by Anthony Dutrow, Richard Dutrow Jr., Ron Ellis, Paul McGee, and Peter Miller.

"I've trained for the family for more than 25 years," Ellis said on Wednesday. "Mace was one of the wisest and most charitable men I've known. There's no question he will be missed."

In 2008, Mace and Samantha Siegel were honored for their dedicated to racing by the Edwin Gregson Foundation, which provides scholarships for the children of backstretch employees.
Jan Siegel died in 2002. Aside from Samantha, survivors include son, Evan, and his granddaughter, Riley.