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John C. Mabee 1921 - 2002

John Mabee
photo courtesy of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club


Mr. and Mrs. Mabee at the Kentucky Derby post position draw in 1999 where they entered both General Challenge and Excellent Meeting


At Turfway Park after winning the Spiral Stakes with Event of the Year in 1998

Date: 04/25/2002

John C. Mabee, a California racing icon whose influence spread nationally thanks to his lifelong blend of hard work and high vision, died Wednesday, April 24 at 11:30 p.m., from the affects of a stroke he suffered Sunday, April 14, at his beloved Golden Eagle Farm in nearby Ramona. He was 80.

Mr. Mabee moved to California from his native Iowa for his health and built up from a corner grocery store to own the Big Bear chain of supermarkets. Using the profits from the stores, he and his wife Betty built up Golden Eagle Farm into one of California's most successful breeding and racing outfits. Some of the more notable runners to carry the Golden Eagle silks are Best Pal, General Challenge, Excellent Meeting, Event of the Year, Dramatic Gold, Jeanne Jones, Souvenir Copy, and Worldly Manner.

Mr. Mabee and Golden Eagle won three Eclipse awards as outstanding breeder in 1991, 1997, and 1998. He was an original board member of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and served as president and then chairman for a total of almost 25 years. He was also a founding member of the board of directors of Breeders' Cup Limited.

Joe Harper, President and General Manager of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, expressed "no one man has had more involvement in racing in California or has done more for Del Mar in particular than John Mabee. His integrity, honesty and friendship has been an inspiration for all of us at Del Mar."

Mr. Mabee is survived by his wife of 60 years Betty, son Larry, and three grandchildren. On Tuesday, May 7th a "Last Call to the Post" memorial service for John. C. Mabee will be held on the turf course finish at the line at Del Mar Racetrack at 12:15 p.m. with a reception to follow. Use Solana Gate off Via de la Valle to enter. The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Aseltine School, 4027 Normal St., San Diego, CA 92130, 619-296-2135.

Photos ©2002 Cindy Pierson Dulay, licensed to About

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