ICON Bronze LLC
designers of Fine Art CUSTOM BRONZE STATUEs and Monuments
Mold made from the Seabiscuit horse at Saratoga Springs New York
SEABISCUIT STATUE TO RETURNTO HORSE LEGEND’S HOME,
FINAL RESTING PLACEAT RIDGEWOOD RANCH IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
By Gary Kozel
Original Sculpture Was Removed in 1950s Unveiling Set for June
Willits, CA, January 18, 2006 -- After an absence of more than 55 years, a life-sized bronze sculpture of the legendary American racehorse Seabiscuit is coming back to its original home in northern California.
Workers in Salt Lake City and the San Francisco Bay Area are now crafting an exact replica of the original statue and granite pedestal that until 1951 stood prominently at Seabiscuit’s home and final resting place, Ridgewood Ranch in Willits, California. The monument will be finished this spring and officially unveiled during a special ceremony at the ranch on Saturday morning, June 23.
“It’s just wonderful to be getting a statue of the Biscuit back to the ranch where it belongs,” said Tracy Livingston, President of the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit group formed to protect and preserve the historic buildings and natural resources of the remaining 5,000 acres of the Howard ranch. “The statue will remind this and future generations of Americans of a time in our country’s history when a little racehorse with a big heart captured the imagination of an entire nation.”
One of just two produced, the original casting was moved from Ridgewood to Moore Park (?) after the owner of the famed horse and ranch, San Francisco entrepreneur Charles Howard, died and his family sold the property. About five years ago, Howard family members donated the monument to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. There, it occupies an honored place just outside the museum.
In February 1941, Seabiscuit himself helped unveil the other statue at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California where it remains in the picturesque garden paddock area to this day.
Famed Western artist and sculptor Hughlette “Tex” Wheeler cast the two originals from Seabiscuit in 1940-41 while the horseracing legend was still alive.
Chris and Anita Lowe of Bishopstone, Wiltshire U.K., benefactors of the foundation and collectors of Seabiscuit memorabilia, generously provided funding for the project.
Custom design statue makers, Icon Bronze of Anchorage, Alaska are making the replica from a new rubber and fiberglass mold of the original in Saratoga Springs. V. Fontana, a family-owned and -operated fine granite and marble products manufacturer near San Francisco, is producing the five-ton dark diamond gray granite pedestal. Under its founder, Mark Fontana, the company made the original base. It plans to use the same polishing equipment to finish the granite and duplicate the look and lettering of the original. The inscription will remain as before: “Biscuit’s courage, honesty, and physical prowess definitely place him among the thoroughbred immortals of turf history. He had intelligence and understanding almost spiritual in quality.”
Nestled in the oak and redwood-studded ranchlands and mountains of northern California, Ridgewood Ranch was where Seabiscuit was nursed back to health after a serious injury. Seabiscuit’s recuperation set the stage for an electrifying blaze-of-glory career finish at Santa Anita Park that captivated Depression-era America. Recently, a new generation has been introduced to the Seabiscuit tale through the book “Seabiscuit: An American Legend” by Laura Hillenbrand and an Academy Award-nominated movie.”
If I had the choice of any horse in history to be in a nose-to-nose battle from the top of the stretch to the wire, there is no horse who ever lived that I’d choose over Seabiscuit,” Hillenbrand has said. “He was extraordinarily tenacious.”
Still a working ranch, Ridgewood has been designated one of America’s most threatened historic places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. While the current owner, Christ’s Church of the Golden Rule, has endeavored to be a model steward of the ranch and keep developers at bay, it has lacked the wherewithal to protect the historic structures and landscapes that constitute Seabiscuit’s legacy. The church now is working closely with the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation, the National Trust, and others to develop an overall preservation and resource management plan and identify funding sources for the effort.
The Seabiscuit Heriage Foundation www.seabiscuitheritage.org
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