Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park is named in honor of the California-bred Thoroughbred racehorse owned and bred by Mr. and Mrs. Louis K. Shapiro and trained by Buster Millerick. Native Diver (1959-1967) was the first California-bred winner of $1 million and the first three-time winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup -- a record that stood until 2007, when it was matched by Lava Man.
Native Diver, a son of the great Imbros, is said to have been as wild, unpredictable and charismatic as any horse seen on Californian tracks. Nicknamed "the Diver," he was a racetrack idol who provided many thrilling races for the fans in his day. One of those fans was the Shapiro's young grandson, Richard, who today serves as the Chairman of the California Horse Racing Board. Shapiro recalled not only the excitement of watching Native Diver's races from his grandparents' box seats, but also how he used to tell everyone around him, "Vote for Native Diver!"
Native Diver set six career track records, three of those records carrying a hefty 130 pounds. He won a total of 34 stakes races at six different California racetracks and was the 7th racing millionaire.
Native Diver died at the age of 8 of intestinal colic. He is buried at Hollywood Park under a monument in the paddock.