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Golden Eagle Farm downsizing won't affect SLRD


Last updated 8/28/2007 at Noon

agle Farm will be downsizing and moving its operations will have minimal effect on the San Luis Rey Downs Training Center, according to Golden Eagle Farm general manager Janine McCullough.

Golden Eagle Farm currently sends horses to San Luis Rey Downs trainer Paul Schiewe for assessment. “Our relationship with him will continue,” McCullough said.

On August 7 Golden Eagle Farm announced a six-month plan to scale back their thoroughbred breeding and racing numbers and a longer-term plan to relocate the downsized operations from Ramona to Rancho Santa Fe.

Ironically, the property in Rancho Santa Fe on which the Mabee family closed escrow in late July was once the property of C. Arnholdt Smith, whose history included building San Luis Rey Downs along with Don Alessio in the late 1960s. (After the collapse of Smith’s financial empire the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took over the facility in the mid-1970s, the Vessels family purchased San Luis Rey Downs from the FDIC in the early 1980s, and Magna Entertainment Corporation bought the training center from the Vessels family in the late 1990s.) The property which had been owned by Smith and his daughter, Carol Shannon, totals 28.75 acres at the intersection of Via de la Valle and Calzada del Bosque.

John Mabee founded the Big Bear grocery chain in 1941 and Golden Eagle Farm in 1957. In the 1990s, John and Betty Mabee moved from the Alvarado Estates neighborhood of San Diego to Rancho Santa Fe. John Mabee passed away in April 2002, and his widow and son both now live in Rancho Santa Fe. Larry Mabee now owns Golden Eagle Farm along with his mother.

“I think it’s a great tribute to the family and everything that Larry has hung in there for five years,” McCullough said. “Even with the downsizing he’s doing, he’s staying in the business.”

The two Golden Eagle Farm facilities in Ramona total more than 800 acres, and the Mabees also have breeding farms in Kentucky. Golden Eagle Farm plans to move operations to Rancho Santa Fe by early 2009 and to reduce its stable from about 280 horses to about 25 horses by mid-2008. More than 150 horses are currently consigned for fall 2007 auctions.

Golden Eagle also plans to trim its employee staff from about 35 to about 15 in early November, and McCullough and the Mabees are working with the equine industry elsewhere to place the laid off employees. “Larry has done a very nice severance package for them, and we are helping with resumes and helping them stay in the industry if they want to,” McCullough said.

At one time Golden Eagle Farm had a barn at San Luis Rey Downs, but that is no longer the case. Horses are broken and conditioned at the Ramona farm before being sent to Schiewe for assessment. After the horses are with Schiewe for about 45 days McCullough makes the decision about sending horses to the various racing trainers Golden Eagle uses.

“We’ll race out what we have right now,” McCullough said. “We’re not in a hurry to get rid of our racehorses.”


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