Thursday, January 8, 2009

History Behind the Name: Saturday's San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita

Santa Anita's San Pasqual Handicap - like many of its historic stakes races - is named for a Mexican land grant. The 14,000-acre El Rancho San Pasqual embraced almost all of what is now Pasadena, South Pasadena, Altadena and San Marino.

The rancho was originally granted to Eulalia Perez de Guillen on Easter, 1826, for her many years of service as keeper of the keys at Mission San Gabriel. She traded the land for her freedom from an arranged marriage and a small cottage near the mission. After passing through several hands, the deed ended up with Jose Perez, a distant relative of Eulalia, who abandoned the property. In 1843, the rancho was given by the governor of Mexico to Manual Garfias, a lieutenant colonel in the Mexican army.

Some time between 1838 and 1845, an adobe was built on Rancho San Pasqual. Near the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, the adobe served as headquarters for General Jose Maria Flores, the interim governor of California. The defeated Californios met in the adobe to discuss a tentative treaty, which would become the Articles of Capitulation. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the adobe is hidden from view by apartment houses and 1920's bungalows on a knoll in South Pasadena.

The San Pasqual Handicap has been run since 1935, and has been won by such outstanding runners as Congaree, Silver Charm, Alphabet Soup, Precisionist, Ancient Title, Ack Ack, and Native Diver.

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