ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2015)–Santa Anita Park will honor the memory of longtime local sports writer and publicity staffer Jack Disney on Saturday, with the $53,000 Jack Disney Memorial Turf, which has attracted a competitive field of 12 allowance runners who will compete at 6 ½ furlongs down the track’s hillside turf course.
Disney, who passed away on June 29 at age 80 due to complications from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (C.O.P.D.), was an avid racing enthusiast from his days at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles through a colorful 35-year run at the now-defunct LA Herald Examiner and then as a racing publicist at both Hollywood Park and Santa Anita.
In addition to horseracing, Disney, who started at the Herald in 1954, covered USC football and basketball, the Lakers, Angels, Dodgers, boxing at both the Olympic Auditorium and the Forum, and even had a short run as an on-air pro wrestling analyst alongside the legendary Dick Lane on KTLA Channel 5.
Married for the final 19 years of his life to his high school sweetheart, Emily, “Diz” as he was commonly known in press boxes throughout the Southland, enjoyed some of his greatest success late in life, as a Thoroughbred owner. Calling upon his close ties to the sports community, Disney and his twin brother, Doug, formed “Indizguys” Stable in 2005 and had an amazing run of success in conjunction with the late trainer, Mike Mitchell.
Stable membership ranged from former Angels catcher and manager, Buck Rogers, to former USC and San Francisco 49ers receiver Paul Salata and retired Hall of Fame LA Times baseball writer, Ross Newhan.
Coincidentally, Disney, who covered the 1962 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap and often referred to Bill Shoemaker’s deftly executed gate to wire triumph with upsetter Olden Times as the greatest race he’d ever seen, struck gold via the claim box with a long-fused turf horse named On the Acorn, who was purchased for $40,000 on Nov. 25, 2006.
An English-bred gelding, On the Acorn would go on to win three graded stakes for “Indizguys,” including the 2007 edition of the San Juan Capistrano, which Disney called “One of the greatest moments in my life.”
The Jack Disney Memorial Turf is a first condition allowance for 3-year-olds and up and has been carded as the fourth race on a nine-race program. First post time on Saturday is at 1 p.m.