Here’s one for the history books. According to a report in the Pasadena Independent following opening day of Santa Anita’s 1955 meet, “History Book raced to an easy length victory yesterday in the $23,300 Palos Verdes Handicap before 62,000 racing fans, second largest opening day crowd in the history of Santa Anita.”
History Book, trained by Buster Millerick for Mr. and Mrs. B.J. Richards, was ridden to victory by Ralph Neves, finishing in front of Karim and Hour Regards. The field also included Porterhouse (winner of the 1956 running) and betting favorite El Digg, both finishing out of the money.
The historic stakes is named for Rancho Palos Verdes, a quiet suburb of Los Angeles that sits atop the bluffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. It is on the site of the first Spanish ranch land grant in California – Rancho San Pedro. In 1827, a parcel of that original land grant was procured by Jose Dolores Sepulveda and named Rancho de los Palos Verdes (“range of green trees”).
The peninsula was originally inhabited by Native Americans belonging to the Tongva tribe, who traded with neighbors on Catalina Island just 26 miles across the Pacific.