Thoroughbred Rescue to Benefit from Seabiscuit Ranch Tour

By GEVA on August 20, 2008 in News

For Immediate Release:



The general public is invited to tour Ridgewood Ranch to benefit GEVA, a Northern California Thoroughbred retirement and rehabilitation foundation, Saturday, October 11th.  Reservations must be made in advance at the Willits Chamber of Commerce by calling 707-459-7910 or by visiting

August 20, 2008 Willits, CA – Friends, fans and supporters of Seabiscuit are invited to tour Ridgewood Ranch, home and final resting place of the horse racing legend in Willits, CA, on October 11, 2008 and to show their support for Glen Ellen Vocational Academy, an equine retirement foundation operated by Pam Berg in nearby Sonoma County, California. The event is sponsored by the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation and Willits Chamber of Commerce.

Berg and a handful of volunteers are rescuing and providing care for injured and retired thoroughbreds so that they may recover and return to riding soundness, just as Seabiscuit once did under his trainer Tom Smith. Tom Smith’s nephew James Watkins along with his wife Lucy are both avid supporters of GEVA and help provide sponsorships for individual retired horses. GEVA was founded to provide homes for injured, retired, and abused horses, or horses just in need of a home.

Representing the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation will be Jacqueline Cooper, owner and breeder of American Legend Horse Farm which is working to preserve the Seabiscuit bloodline at Ridgewood and the President of the foundation Tracy Livingston.  Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization formed to promote the cultural legacy of the Ridgewood Ranch through historic preservation, environmental conservation and public education.

Nestled in the oak and redwood-studded ranchlands and mountains of northern California, Ridgewood Ranch was where Seabiscuit recovered after sustaining a suspensory ligament injury. His recuperation set the stage for an electrifying blaze-of-glory career finish at Santa Anita Park that captivated Depression-era America. Owner Charles Howard was also one of the initial investors of Santa Anita Park in 1933.

Washoe Valley Sal, a Seabiscuit descendant, will also be making an appearance at Ridgewood. “We are very happy to support Pam Berg in her rescue efforts.” said Cooper who purchased a stallion season for SEA OF SECRETS donated by Ballena Vista Farm to benefit Glen Ellen Vocational Academy earlier this year. Ballena Vista Farm is a full service Thoroughbred breeding operation located in Ramona, CA. WASHOE VALLEY SAL was bred to Sea of Secrets and recently returned home to Ridgewood where her famous ancestor once trod. The resulting foal due in April will be the first of the Biscuit line born at the historic Howard mare barn once part of the Howard’s first class Thoroughbred breeding operation in over 50 years.

“Sally is very special to us. We lost our other Tb broodmare descending from Seabiscuit last fall. She along with our yearling filly BRONZE SEA are continuing an important line. Col. Michael Howard USMC (Ret), the Great Grandson of Charles Howard, along with his mother Barbara were most pleased at their last visit of Ridgewood Ranch. Barbara mentioned Marcela Howard would have been thrilled with our preservation efforts.” said Cooper. “We anxiously await the arrival of our newest next Spring. Eventually we hope to have one of our Lil’Biscuit’s racing in support of the [Seabiscuit Heritage] foundation.”

“I think you will be very happy with the baby Sea of Secrets and Sally produce.” said Vicki Rasmussen, Office Manager at Ballena Vista Farm. Sea of Secrets (Storm Cat-Love From Mom, by Mr. Prospector) is ranked Top-5 California Sire by winners & SWs. 2007 Earnings of $2.7 Million 5 SWs, 10 Stakes Horses in 2007, including Del Mar SW SEASIDE AFFAIR.

Cooper commented she is very pleased with the quality horse breeding practices and appreciates the conscientious and thorough broodmare care given to Washoe Valley Sal during her short stay at Ballena Vista Farm. “I believe it is important for mares to be contented, stress-free and be able to enjoy lazy days during the breeding season. Ballena Vista Farm is very peaceful and quiet, with a lot of sunshine and fresh air. Our equine campers are very happy here.”

“I know that in this day and age it is hard to believe, especially at a farm having over 200 horses at any given time,” adds Rasmussen, “but Farm Manager Manuel Ochoa provides care to each horse literally as if it were his own. He is simply an animal lover all the way around, and it shows. He takes personal pride in the way the horses look, feel and perform. No one has more heart than this farm, and Manuel.”

“In fact,” adds Rasmussen, “he commented when Sally departed that she looked beautiful and was feeling that way, too!  [Manuel] takes special pride in making sure that when we receive a horse from an owner such as yourself who takes great pride in their horses and really cares for them, that he returns the animal in a condition in which he would want it returned to him if the shoe were on the other foot.”

Sea of Secrets is one of many quality stallion seasons offered annually at online auction to benefit GEVA. Thoroughbred breeders are encouraged to check back online this fall for the 2009 Auction. Yet another great roster of stallion seasons is anticipated. Donations for Glen Ellen Vocational Academy are also accepted and help provide feed, housing, and care for the horses of GEVA.

GEVA inc. is a nonprofit organization with a 501 (c)(3) status granted by the IRS. Donations to the foundation are TAX DEDUCTIBLE.


Still a working ranch, Ridgewood has been designated one of America’s most threatened historic places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation is working with the current owners, the National Trust and others to develop an overall preservation and resource management plan and identify funding sources. For further information or to make a contribution or contact the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation @Ridgewood Ranch, 16200 North Hwy. 101, Willits, CA 95490 e-mail or visit

High resolution photographs are available upon request.

Submitted by:

Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation
Office:  16200 North Hwy 101, Willits, CA 95490 USA  e-mail:
Telephone: 707.459.5992  Fax: 707.459.5969

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