‘You don’t throw away a life just because it is banged up a little’

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

Berg and a handful of volunteers are rescuing and providing care for injured and retired thoroughbreds so that they can 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.

Representing GEVA will be Sharon Harms, a Santa Rosa Junior College professor who has been a volunteer for some 4 years. 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 the American Legend Horse Farm which is raising Seabiscuit’s descendants, and Seabiscuit Foundation President Tracy Livingston. The foundation is a nonprofit group formed to protect and preserve the historic buildings and natural resources of the remaining 5,000 acres of the original ranch. A life-sized bronze sculpture of the equestrian giant recently was unveiled and formally dedicated there.

When Livingston and Cooper were bringing the newly crafted statue of Seabiscuit back to the ranch from Salt Lake City, GEVA was one of the ceremonial whistle stops made enroute. Ironically, GEVA was where the vintage van carrying the Seabiscuit statute broke down. So Seabiscuit, who Tom Smith instinctively understood to need companions, enjoyed the companionship of 29 thoroughbreds for several hours.

“You don’t throw away a life, just because it is banged up a little.”

Tom Smith – Acadamy Award-nominated movie Seabiscuit

“I believe, Charles Howard [owner of Seabiscuit] would have given Pam Berg a smile and nod of approval for her rescue efforts,” said Cooper. “After all, Seabiscuit himself was nursed back to health after he suffered what was thought to be a career ending injury.” Nestled in the oak and redwood-studded ranchlands and mountains of northern California, Ridgewood Ranch was where Seabiscuit recovered after rupturing a suspensory ligament. His recuperation set the stage for an electrifying blaze-of-glory career finish at Santa Anita Park that captivated Depression-era America.

Washoe Valley Sal, a Seabiscuit descendant, will also make an appearance. “We are very grateful to individuals such as Pam Berg and Pam Forgash of Jaynesville, CA who have taken it upon themselves to find suitable homes for rescued horses through their horse adoption programs. Washoe Valley Sal is such a rescue and we are very happy to report that she is now in foal and an integral part of our Lil’Biscuit breeding program.” Cooper added.

Cooper purchased a stallion season to benefit Glen Ellen Vocational Academy donated by Ballena Vista Farm earlier this year. Washoe Valley Sal was recently bred to Sea of Secrets (by Storm Cat) at Ballena Vista Farm, a full service Thoroughbred breeding operation located in Ramona, CA and is due to foal next May. “We thought it would be most appropriate to purchase a stallion season to support Geva,” said Cooper.

This is one of many stallion seasons offered annually at online auction to benefit GEVA. Thoroughbred breeders are encouraged to check back online this fall for the 2009 Stallion Season 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. For more information please visit:

The general public is invited to tour Ridgewood Ranch to benefit GEVA, Saturday, September 15th. Reservations must be made in advance at the Willits Chamber of Commerce by calling 707-459-7910.


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 current owner, Christ’s Church of the Golden Rule, has endeavored to be a model steward of the ranch by keeping developers at bay and by permanently protecting the historic structures that constitute Seabiscuit’s legacy.

For more information, contact the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation, @Ridgewood Ranch, 16200 North Highway 101, Willits, CA 95490

e-mail: or visit