02/04/2014 4:33PM

Seabiscuit’s stud barn named historic location


The stud barn of Racing Hall of Famer Seabiscuit at Ridgewood Ranch in Willits, Calif., has officially been listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The designation puts the barn among the federal government’s official list of places, objects, and buildings deemed worthy of preservation, and may qualify the property for grants and tax incentives. The announcement came after a 15-month nomination process was spearheaded by the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation.

Seabiscuit was one of the sport’s most famous figures, earning Horse of the Year honors in 1938 and winning more than 25 stakes races, including the famous 1938 Pimlico Special, where he defeated dual classic winner War Admiral in a match race. He was owned during his prime racing years by Charles Howard and trained by Tom Smith.

After his retirement from racing, Seabiscuit sired nine crops, standing at Ridgewood Ranch. Among his leading progeny were stakes winners Sea Swallow, Sea Spray, Sea Garden, and Sea Sovereign.

“While Seabiscuit’s racing career ended prior to the construction of the stud barn, owner Charles Howard held the racehorse in such high esteem that he constructed a new barn, luxurious by equine standards, for Seabiscuit’s use,” said State Historian William Burg. “The barn featured a guestbook signed by over 5,000 visitors between 1940 and 1947.”

Artist Stan Watts of Atlas Bronze Casting, who produced a life-size memorial statue dedicated to Seabiscuit at Ridgewood Ranch plans to donate a plaque commemorating the achievement.

"Because Seabiscuit was one of the greatest racehorses who ever lived, his barn is a landmark in sports history,” said Laura Hillenbrand, author of the best-selling book “Seabiscuit: An American Legend.” “But it's more than that. Seabiscuit was a beloved popular icon of the 1930s, a rags-to-riches hero who captivated and uplifted a nation stricken by the Great Depression. His barn is a treasure of our history, and it is so fitting that it now occupies a privileged spot on the National Register of Historic Places."