Sportsman and capitalist
by Susan van Dyke
This is the final installment of the nine individuals and three
horses that were inducted into the inaugural Washington Racing Hall of Fame in
September 2003. Also in this issue you will find the first in-depth study among
the three men and two horses from the class of 2004, as Jon White retells the
tale of the great Turbulator. Each of these Hall of Famers has played an
important role in the growth of our industry. Each has or had a very special
story. We hope these extended articles have expanded your appreciation of
Washingtons great racing heritage. As we honor these inductees, we can
count our many blessings, both past and present, as we continue to enjoy the
thrills and beauty of Thoroughbred racing.
wenty-eight days. A mile racetrack built in
28 days and in the middle of the Depression. To complete a project of
this magnitude took a determined and passionate man. That man was Joseph
Gottstein was born in Seattle on July 14, 1891, to Myer Mike and
Rosa Gottstein. Joes father had emigrated from Russia and made a living
as a wholesale liquor dealer in Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota, before
settling in Seattle in 1879 and founding the M. Gottstein Investment Company.
His mothers parents hailed from Poland, and Joe was told they were the
first Jewish couple married in the Oregon Territory. Joe had a younger sister
Gertrude, who later married Seattle businessman Arthur Cohen.
Years later, Joe still considered his father the most
unforgettable person he had known. His philosophical teachings to me were
very important in my life. He taught me tolerance and not to expect everything
to be beautiful. As he told me, They put salt on the table to let you
know sugar is sweet.
Gottstein began his education at the Pacific Grammar School and later attended
prep school in New Hampshire at the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy. He was
both an outstanding student and athlete.
briefly attended both Princeton University and Lafayette University before
transferring to Brown University in Rhode Island. While attending Brown he
played right guard during the Brown-Bears 1912 football season of 6 - 4 - 0
(his sophomore season) and later became the line coach at his alma mater.
Gottstein was recorded as standing 59 and weighing 200 pounds
during his football days. In 1915, he scouted Washington State College in
anticipation of the 1916 Rose Bowl it was only the second playing of the
now famous New Years Pasadena tradition. The Cougars handily defeated the
Bears by 14-to-zero. It was quite an upset, as Brown had entered the game as a
two-to-one favorite after a three-to-zero victory over Yale. Gottstein also won
the New England heavyweight wrestling championship during his collegiate
career. Always an avid sports fan, he later in life would own a hockey team and
become an accomplished golfer. He also became a great Husky football fan.
Joe was only 23 when his mother died of cancer at age
48. Upon her death in 1914, he returned home to join his father in business. By
the following year, in addition to working for his father in what had grown to
be the largest whiskey wholesale dealership in the Pacific northwest, he and
George Schilmiller had become business partners.
When Prohibition was enacted shortly thereafter,
Gottstein turned from liquor to real estate, from whence he became financially
successful. We once owned six corners between Yesler Way and Madison with
saloons on each of them, he remarked. Three years later his father, at
age 70, also died. At the time of the elder Gottsteins death, Joe was
vice president of his fathers firm. The sizable estate which had been
left to him by his father was later nearly tapped, but rebounded
from the same investments which had first depleted it.
Soon came the war to end all wars as
Europe, and later America, became embroiled in World War I. The young American
served his country as an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to
naval intelligence. He spent two years in the service a shallow
water sailor, as the only overseas port he saw was in
Victoria, British Columbia.
By 1919 Gottstein was
the president of Gottsteins Inc. Company, which dealt in mortgage loans,
real estate and insurance rentals, and was the secretary/treasurer of the
Greater Motors Corporation.
A few years later,
Gottstein belonged to a group that built downtown Seattles Coliseum
Theater, which at the time was considered the finest theater in the world.
Vaudeville was a popular venue then and the motion picture industry was growing
by leaps and bounds. Ownership of the Coliseum, Liberty and Alaska theaters was
merged into the Greatest Theaters, Inc. Gottstein sold his interest in the
theater group in 1926, but in 1968, he nostalgically bought the Coliseum back.
The North Pacific Finance Corporation listed
Gottstein as president in 1928.
In July 1930,
Gottstein and his friend and theater operator William Edris closed a
complicated $10 million real estate deal. The front page of the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer headlined the transaction: Realty Worth
$10,000,000 in Citys Biggest Merger. Their bold move, in which
several Seattle business landmarks were exchanged, produced a deal that stood
as a record-breaker for many years. Gottstein proved again and again his knack
for correctly reading the Seattle marketplace.
was known to be tough and shrewd in his business dealings, possessing a
single-mindedness that begged no one interrupt. One rule that influenced him
greatly, spoken in Gottsteins words, and a key to his success, was:
Dont think the fellow you are dealing with is a damn fool. Give
your business adversary credit for having brains.
The Only Game in Town
compulsive drive that Joe Gottstein had from the very beginning to build a
plant and an industry in which HIS city could take pride.Pete
Pederson, Longacres track official, author and future Eclipse Award winning
California steward, 1967.
To paraphrase a famous
quote, Tenaciousness, thy name be racetrack builder (and operator).
Ever since I was a small boy I have been active
in athletics and all sorts of sports, but the Thoroughbred has always been
closest to my heart.Joe Gottstein, 1958.
The future racetrack entrepreneur had become involved
in horse racing while still in short pants. Gottsteins father
had been a shareholder in the Meadows racetrack (1902-1908), now the south end
of Boeing Field. The youngster would often accompany Scotty Fergason, a horse
owner and business partner of his fathers, to the popular track. When he
was eight, the young city-raised Joe received his first racehorse (Prince
Liege) as a gift from his father that attachment to horses would last a
lifetime. Later, in college, he would take advantage of his east coast
circumstances to attend race meets in New York. It was during his eastern
sojourn that he saw the horse he would consider the best horse he ever
saw run the mighty, unbeaten Colin.
By 1922, racing (except for amateur races at county
fairs) had lain dormant for 14 years in the Evergreen State. Gottstein and
Roscoe Drumheller got together in the hopes of legalizing racing again. With
the help of a young Seattle lawyer named Edwin J. Brown, whose father was then
mayor of Seattle, a racing bill was submitted to the legislature. The vote in
the Senate resulted in a tie, with the Lieutenant Governor Wee Coyle casting
the tiebreaker in racings favor. Unfortunately, the bill failed to reach
the floor in the House of Representatives. Both Brown, as a famous steward, and
Coyle, as a placing judge, later became involved in horseracing.
Gottstein never gave up the battle and his
tenaciousness finally paid off in 1933 when, on March 20, Governor Clarence D.
Martin signed House Bill 59. (Just two days before, Oregon had legalized
pari-mutuel racing and California passed racing legislation in 1934.)
Pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing once again became legal in the state as of
June 8, but the battle for who would hold the keys to Washingtons racing
future was far from over. A referendum bill was being circulated calling for a
recall of the racing law; and there were two other groups, including one headed
by Blackjack Jerome from California, also vying for the license.
Longacres, as well as several other tracks of that
era, came into being after racing was banned for many years, not because of any
moral laxity, but because after the crash on Wall Street in 1929, the country
was in the depth of the Great Depression. Jobs were needed; and more than that,
state coffers were on the lean side.
Edris (for whom the famous Washington-bred runner Sirde would be named)
originally hoped to interest three California men (Baron Long, James W. Crofton
and William Kyne who later was involved with the establishment of both
Bay Meadows and Portland Meadows) in helping them build the track. The deal
fell through when the state upped its takeout from three to five percent,
making profits slim for a number of years. Joe then asked local banker Perry
Truex for a personal loan of $85,000, but even with that sum, Gottstein and
Edris had to mortgage properties in order to go forward.
Finally on June 20, 1933, a permit was given to the
Washington Jockey Club to own and operate a mile track and the race was on to
get the track and grounds built. Besides Gottstein and Edris, sponsors of the
Jockey Club included Gottsteins longtime friend, the noted theater
architect Benjamin Marcus Priteca, who would design and oversee the building of
the new race facility, Dr. Richard OShea, Howard Lang and M. Ross Downs.
The newly formed Washington Horse Racing Commission awarded a 40-day meet
(August 3 - September 17) to the new racing partnership.
In an interesting side note, Longacres was not the
first Washington track to race after the racing ban was lifted. That honor went
to the Silver Lake Race Course, south of Everett, which held a short, and by
all accounts, a disastrous meeting. Dog racing was also being held north of
Approximately 100 acres near the Renton
Junction was purchased by the Washington Jockey Club from dairyman James
Nelsen, whose two daughters were still living in the farm houses across from
the track, off East Valley Highway, into the 1980s. (In a century, the land
went from being wilderness to hops and then potato fields, to pastureland for
cows, to a racetrack for horses, to its current tenure as property of aerospace
giant The Boeing Company.)
This location was
picked for three reasons. The fine alluvial soil was well scoured by glaciers
in past ages; no danger of rocks. This made a safe running track with much less
work than in many locations. It was close to railroad siding, which was
important in the beginning. It was removed from the city and easily accessible,
both from East and West Valley Highways.Morris J. Alhadeff, Longacres
chairman and president, 1973.
trainer Glen Williams who was born and raised not a mile from the oval
literally saw the land transformed from pastureland to a racetrack,
barns and grandstands. The main reason they could build as quickly as
they did was that the land was relatively level, said Williams. Teams of
horses and slips were used to slice, level and then carry the dirt. Men were
lined up everywhere, as any and all wanted to work in these dark economic days.
Gottstein worked right along side the many
carpenters, gardeners and tradesmen to make the targeted date. He was known to
be a hands-on kind of guy.
It took them only 28
frantic days to plow the track, construct the grandstand and clubhouse and
build the first allotment of stalls. Midway through the meet, a large,
circus-type tent was put up to house another 100 horses.
Western Washingtons gift to the turf empire,
artistically set on the glorious greenery fringing the White River, blossomed
forth with the first of its forty-day sessions of Thoroughbred racing . .
.Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1933.
The Thursday, August 3, 1933, opening was held under
clear skies and over a fast track. It had been 25 years since the Meadows had
closed. A crowd of about 11,000 people paid the $1.10 admission to watch the
first race, a 5 1/2 furlong $1,200 claiming race, go off at 2:08 p.m. John W.
Marchbanks Vetsera, with Herbert Simmons aboard, won the $400 purse. The
first days mutuel handle was around $13,000.
The Laird of Longacres
After the passage of the Washington horse race bill
in 1935, Gottstein became the guiding force in the development of Thoroughbred
racing in the state. Possessing a sound background in racetrack lore born of
strict application to racings problems, Gottstein has mastered the
intricate phases of management and operation. Through the lean years he
maintained a policy of presenting the highest possible caliber of racing; the
wisdom of such a policy is evidenced today by public opinion of Longacres as
one of Americas finest racing plants.The Washington
Gottstein was a horseman who
owned a racetrack, not just a racetrack owner who owned horses. Then, as now,
this was a departure from the norm. He was a man of great charm and influence,
which he used to woo Seattle society to not only come to his track, but to
become racehorse owners. In the early days, his stature and connections helped
to create credibility and helped his track to grow in popularity. Later he
would command respect throughout the Thorough- bred industry nationwide. (In
1944, Gottstein was asked to run Belmont Park.)
Joe Gottstein was a very theatrically minded person.
He wanted to get headlines and he came up with the idea for the Mile and its
$10,000, even though the country was in the middle of a depression and
Longacres had not yet turned a profit.Glen Williams, leading trainer
and Longacres race secretary.
In 1935, Gottstein
inaugurated the Longacres Mile. With its $10,000 purse, it was the richest race
at eight furlongs in the country. From Coldwaters initial victory to the
Miles continued rivalry at Emerald Downs, the race is the high-water mark
of each racing season.
It was tough in the early
years. Edris bowed out, but Gottstein hung tough. One year when the track
couldnt afford to make their purse payments, Gottstein secured mortgages
on some of his real estate investments to pay horsemen. In 1938, a new tote
board was needed, but there was no money for this major expense. In stepped
William Boeing, Sr., who helped raise the needed $50,000. Many of
Gottsteins real estate friends bought stock in the track to help through
the financial rough spots.
moment on the local racing scene occurred in the 1946 Seattle Handicap when
Canadian invader *Mafosta set a new world record.
During WWII, the Longacres infield was used as an
artillery stockade and the Gottsteins original summer cottage housed
troops. Troop tents were scattered everywhere. After the war, Gottstein
purchased a barracks from the government and had it moved behind the tote
board. He turned it into a five-room house, complete with swimming pool and
No doubt about it this Longacres
track is certainly the fastest strip Ive rode on must be the
fastest in the country and probably the world.Johnny Longden,
National Racing Hall of Famer and leading rider, 1946.
The 1948 season saw five new track records set during
the 58-day meeting. Longacres always had a reputation as being a
Racings survival has
never been an easy go in Washington State. World War II brought racing
blackouts and limitations. The always looming availability of other forms of
entertainment, and then other forms of betting, also impacted the mutuel
handle. There was always the impending threat of severe floods, as the Cedar,
Black and Duwamish Rivers took their winter toll on several occasions
including the floods just four months after their inaugural season, in December
of 1933, and the doozy that befelled Renton on Friday, December 13, 1946, when
barns were literally washed off their moorings and only rooftops could be seen.
Through the years, 12 major winter floods would raise havoc at the track.
Conflicting race dates throughout the state also added to the muddle.
Longacres, and racing in this country, was in its hey
day in the decades after World War II. It was the only legalized gambling
around; it was glamorous; and it was long before national baseball, football,
hockey, and a bit of everything else, was there for the asking. Also,
television, or the basic lack thereof, wasnt the factor in peoples
lives that it has now become. If you wanted to see something, you had to go
where the action was. And racing was action.
was a brilliant man. Being around him was like going to college every day. He
was so knowledgeable about racing and other things, too.Morrie
Maurice Morrie Alhadeff came to work at the track in 1947. A member
of another prominent longtime Seattle family, Alhadeff had begun his career at
Longacres in public relations, after 15 years spent as a well-respected news
editor and reporter in broadcasting (KJR, KVI and KOL) and a stint in the Coast
Guard during World War II.
It was no cakewalk,
since Joe, a zealous and controversial guy, who had dreams of turning Longacres
into the nations best racetrack, was a difficult
taskmaster.Emmett Watson, Seattle Times columnist, 1985.
In 1963, Gottstein passed the reins of the day-to-day
operation to the capable hands of Alhadeff, who had been serving as
vice-president of the racetrack. During his tenure Alhadeff created and
developed the first weekly television show devoted to horse racing. He
stressed the importance of horse racing making an effort to become part
of the community. Alhadeffs sons Michael and Ken each began working
at the race oval while in their early teens. Michael, who later became
president of Longacres when his father retired in 1987, began his long sojourn
at the track in 1959. His younger brother, Ken, later the senior vice president
of the operation, joined him three years later.
December 1966, plans were announced for a 9/10ths of a mile turf course to be
installed within the circumference of the main track. It had long been a dream
of the tracks founder, but unfortunately, those plans never came to
A man of strong opinions, Gottstein was
adamant about the dangers of exotic wagering. He felt that exotic wagering
would toll the end of horseracing. Instead of handicapping horses, exotics
wagering would change the game to a matter of picking numbers, with the horse
and its beauty and excitement, basically left out of the equation.
Among the trademarks of his grandfather, Ken Alhadeff
remembers that he always wore Durkees talcum powder, chewed Clorets
gum and carried Stimadents toothpicks. Every car he had had to be
black, with a red leather interior. And any automobile makers insignia
the car bore had to come off. He also added, My grandfather was
absolutely passionate about paying people on time. Also, one of his favorite
phrases was never skimp on tires or shoes.
At the end
of each race meet, the Gottsteins would head south to California where they
held a box at Santa Anita ever since the track opened in 1934. During that very
first card at Santa Anita, Gottstein had a horse in the final race of the day.
He later recalled that runner, Zevar, had proven to be a bit of a problem for
the starters when he refused to leave the open stall starting gate. Among the
many friendships he developed in southern California were those with Hollywood
producers Mervyn LeRoy and David Butler.
rumors were circulating in the Bay Area that Gottstein and Webb Everett were
set to buy Tanforan for a reported $3.5 million, but the deal never went
A few of the well-remembered racing
moments beheld during his winter hiatus were . . . Seeing a
Washington-bred, Sir William, win the Santa Anita Derby and Silky
Sullivan gave me some wonderful thrills.
Another big moment occurred in Kentucky at
Churchill Downs in the spring of 1958 when Gottstein was asked to present the
winners trophy for the Kentucky Oaks the winner Bug Brush.
Washington Horse Breeders Association
The breeders must be encouraged to improve their
stock continually so that the caliber of the Thoroughbreds and of racing will
continue to move ahead. If it is to be accomplished, it must be remembered that
the dam is the all-important factor.Joe Gottstein, 1955.
Gottstein realized that there would not be enough
horses to go around and that the best way to assure full fields at his new
track was to encourage the breeding of Thoroughbreds in Washington. In 1940, 15
men and one progressive woman got together for the purpose of instituting
and incorporating an association which would embody all the principles needed
to bolster a weak and floundering [horse] industry. Led by Joe Gottstein,
whose Washington Jockey Club must be given a great deal of credit by both
breeders and horsemen in the State of Washington for their unstinting
cooperation in fostering the financial incentive for the local breeding
organization, the Washington Horse (Thoroughbred) Breeders was born.
Joe realized Longacres was isolated geographically,
and could never be part of a year-round circuit . . . He knew he had to build
his own game. He encouraged the breeding and owning of horses in the area, and
was remarkably successful. When Longacres opened in 1933, there were eight
breeding farms in the state. There are now over 325 farms and it is
significant.Morris J. Alhadeff, 1973.
Not only had Gottstein provided the impetus for the
WHBAs founding, but he generously provided funding for the first years
until he felt the organization had become financially independent by
designating a percentage of the mutuel handle to the fledgling organization.
(In 1952 he wrote a letter, later published in The Washington Horse, in
which he rescinded that payment, stating We declared that we were
convinced that your organization presented such a strong financial picture, in
fact the strongest in the United States, that it was no longer in need of any
subsidy from our company. The letter was met with great consternation.)
Gottstein later supported the associations
sales and felt that Washington-breds are the best to own around here
because they give you more value and I think a buyer gets more for his dollar
when he buys a yearling at the WHBA sale. In 1968 he purchased future
champion Bouncing Kim at the second annual WHBA Summer Yearling Sale, which was
held in the Longacres winners circle.
The welfare of racing in Washington is dependent on
tight cooperation between the breeders and the racing associations. There is
much room for discussion and debate on issues. There is no room for bickering
and personal animosities.Joe Gottstein, 1955.
A Man Ahead of His Time
then Joe was years ahead of his time in many directions. He was one of the
great figures in racetrack management . . .Joe Hirsch, award winning
turf columnist for the Daily Racing Form, 1973.
At the time of Longacres opening, Seattle was
mainly a blue collar town. The midweek post time of 4:30 p.m. was
established to accommodate those who wanted to play the ponies
during the week.
Under Gottsteins guidance,
Longacres became the first track of its size to install the totalizer and the
photo-chart camera. Longacres was also the first track to carry an insurance
program for jockeys and exercise boys. The first licensed woman trainer in the
entire country was Ruth Parton, at Longacres. Sunday racing at Longacres was
another national first. Longacres was also the site of the initial mounts for
the first Japanese rider licensed in the United States.
In 1940, Clay Puetts new inventionthe
electric starting gatewas introduced at Longacres. Puett, another
longtime friend of Gottsteins, had served as a former starter at the
It was Longacres policy to put
a major share of the profits back into the track in the form of improvements.
Gottstein, and then Alhadeff, and later Alhadeffs sons Michael and Ken,
continued to upgrade, beautify and modernize the track.
Gottstein voluntarily established breeders awards
for Washington-bred runners. No other racing state at the time had a voluntary
Gottstein was also among 14
original charter members of the Thoroughbred Racing Association, serving on its
board for 13 years. Among his goals was to make racing the cleanest, most
supervised sport in the country.
dedicated much of his boundless energy and enthusiasm to the
advancement of the Washington-bred runner. At the time of his death, seven of
the 25 stakes offered at Longacres were restricted to Washington-foaled horses.
Washingtons First Turfman of the Year
Thus, there can be no error in saying that what has
taken place in racing here since its inception is due in good part to the
guiding hand of Joe Gottstein. And during this period Joe never concerned
himself with a stupidly selfish program for Longacres alone. He had the
foresight and intelligence to pursue a program for the best interests of racing
in general.Marshall Cassidy, NYRA director of racing and The Jockey
Club executive secretary, 1958.
In 1958, Gottstein
was unanimously selected as the WHBAs inaugural turfman of the year.
Internationally respected sports writer and broadcaster Bill Corum, who was
also the president of Churchill Downs, served as master of ceremonies. Marshall
Cassidy was the evenings keynote speaker. The many prominent guests there
to honor Gottstein were a strong mix of leading politicians and horsemen.
Two Sides to the Man
study of the man himself is a study in contrasts. On the one hand he can be the
most gracious and charming host you would want to meet, and many have found him
to be just that, while on the other hand he can be a veritable bearcat.
Gottstein is not a difficult man to get along with so long as you dont
tell him how to run his track.Russell L. Brown, associate editor
The Washington Horse, 1964.
was a man who took his responsibility seriously to the city that had given him
birth. Involved in many charitable and civic organizations, he was an active
supporter of the University of Washingtons athletic programs (much like
current Emerald Downs president Ron Crockett is today).
Washington-breds are now an integral part of our
racing program and I believe the raising of the breeders awards is both a
means of showing our appreciation and of further encouraging the Thoroughbred
breeders in the state.Joe Gottstein, 1953.
In 1953, The Washington Jockey Club voluntarily
increased the breeders awards at the Longacres meeting from five to 10
Two years later, Gottstein gifted a
blanket, then valued at $5,000, that had been presented to 1889 Kentucky Derby
winner Spokane, to the City of Spokane to be displayed at the Spokane Public
Each year at meet end the track gave their
beautiful hanging flower baskets to a worthy charity.
Time and again, Gottstein has helped out countless
persons in all walks of life. Those who really know him, regard him as a fine
and generous person.Russell Brown, 1964.
Cast-iron on the outside, Gottstein was a man of
unadvertised generosity and had an an abiding concern for his
fellow horsemen. Many a needy horseman was helped financially through the
deep pockets of Joe Gottstein.
When racing resumed
after World War II, the economy in Washington was in bad shape. Though the
mutuel handle plummeted during the post war years, the Washington Jockey Club
held to their specific daily purse distribution and did not cut purses, instead
distributing something like six percent of their take in purses.
In 1948, when the Columbia River threatened to
swallow up Portland Meadows and its horsemen, Gottstein invited horsemen to
Longacres where he housed them and helped replace much of their horse
Several Thoroughbred farm owners in our
state owed their new found property ownership to the generosity of
Gottsteins help with the down payment.
1969, Gottstein, at the urging of his longtime friend Senator Warren Magnuson,
spearheaded a drive at the University of Washington which raised over $1
million towards the purchase of a radiation cobalt machine for cancer research.
Ironically, that same machine would be used in Gottsteins final battle
less than two years later.
But it was the other
side of Joe Gottstein that made for more interesting copy and gossip. In
October of 1942, two major controversies concerning the racetrack entrepreneur
were spread throughout the local newspapers. One had to do with the wartime
rationing of an automobile and the other concerned bookmaking, when after a
Washington State Patrol raid, a number of canceled checks made out to Gottstein
and Edris were found among a large number of checks seized. A month later, when
asked to comment on the two scandals, Gottstein told the press Ive
got nothing to say about all that. Not a single comment. Im just grinning
and bearing it.
connections to many of the Washington Horse Racing Commission members were also
The Laird of Longacres .
. . ruled Washingtons racing with an iron fist and a soft heart.
Joe Gottstein would thunder. And roar. He scowled, cursed (but never obscene),
threatened. Then, after assuming an unalterable position, he would ask for
advice, listen, and as many times as not, do exactly what he had said 15
minutes ago he would not do.Bob Schwarzmann, Seattle Times,
He was known as a tough negotiator and was
equally famous for his temper, but he was a thinking man, a caring man.
Devil-be-damned was his well-known and demanding attitude. There was never a
feeling of indifference about Joe Gottstein. While he was always respected, he
inspired love, fear, awe, envy and hatred.
Tough, positive, threatening, hurling a series of
ultimatums over the bargaining table, and giving a convincing appearance of
assuming an unalterable position, one would feel all was lost whether the
matter pertained to purse increases, racing dates, backstretch improvements, or
racing conditions. Suddenly, questions would be posed to horsemens
representatives, racing com-missioners, or whoever was present. He would ask
for advice from those in attendance and like as not within a few minutes the
matters under consideration would be resolved either by a compromise OR
in many instances the requests of horsemen would be more than
fulfilled.Ed Heinemann, executive vice president WHBA, 1971.
I built this
track so I would have a place to run my horses. Is there anything wrong with a
man eating in his own restaurant?Joe Gottstein.
Gottstein with longtime friend B.N. Hutchinson (and
later with Hutchinsons son Robert) formed Elttaes (Seattle spelled
There was nothing Joe loved better
than to watch his horses run. He loved action, remembered grandson
Ken Alhadeff. There was nothing he loved more than winning a horse race.
He also loved to gamble.
It became a
tradition to boo Gottsteins horses anytime they raced at Longacres and
especially in stakes races. Fans loved to boo if they won, or cheer if they
lost. This was in spite of the fact that the Elttaes runners would often be bet
down as the heavy favorites. When asked if it bothered him, Gottstein, who
obviously loved watching his horses in action, said, I wish they would
boo eight times a day if I could win eight races. I run my horses to win.
In fact, he was known to boo along with the crowd!
Through the years, he and the Hutchinsons raced five
Longacres Mile winners. Their first Mile starter, Mr. Grundy, had finished
third in the 1940 running. In 1941, Campus Fusser, who was trained and bred by
fellow Hall of Fame member Allen Drumheller, became the first Washington-bred
to win the Mile, drawing off by 3 1/2 lengths under Farrell Zufelt. The
following year, the Gottstein/Hutchinson partnership watched their top runner
Lavengro, also a Washington-bred handled by Drumheller, take the eighth running
of the Mile. Due to World War II, a government edict went out that racing cease
and desist. The 1943 Longacres meet was canceled, but the black gelding
Lavengro came back in 1944 to finish fifth in the Mile. Lavengro, a son of
Diavolo, also won the 1940 Burlingame Handicap. Finishing second in that
44 Mile was Elttaes runner Prince Ernest, another Washington-bred, who
went on to squeak a neck victory over Sir Jeffrey in the 1945 edition of
Longacres premier race. Twenty-two years would go by before another Elttaes
star would appear in the Mile winners circle.
The year 1967 saw the emergence of the horse which was
arguably Elttaes Farms best runner. A California-bred son of Royal Orbit,
Kings Favor won five of his six starts at the Renton oval as a three-year-old.
He broke the nine furlong mark in the Washington (Longacres) Derby with a time
of 1:47 1/5. After running seventh in the Mile, the Darrell Cannon trainee
rebounded with a two-length win in the Seattle Handicap where he bettered his
mark for 1 1/8 miles by two ticks.
Back in town
for the 32nd Mile, Kings Favor returned after a sub-par season to romp home by
four-lengths. He finished his season with a victory in his second Seattle
Handicap. Although he would only finish seventh in the 1969 Mile, he would
later in his career add back-to-back triumphs in the San Pasqual Handicap at
Santa Anita before retiring to stud in Washington with $209,705 in earnings. It
was the most ever earned by any Washington sire prospect. Kings Favor also ran
third to Buckpasser in the Strub Stakes. He turned out to be a good sire,
before a farm accident took his life in 1975 at age 12.
In 1968, Elttaes Farms Steel Blade recorded a 4
1/2 length win in the Mile, over a sloppy track, which he loved. A son of My
Host, Steel Blade, though not as popular at stud as Kings Favor, did sire the
champion race mare Silky Steel (bred in the name of Elttaes Farm), whose
presence is still felt through her descendants, including 2005 graded stakes
star Elusive Diva.
The year 1969, despite losing
the two stable stars to the breeding shed, turned out to be a banner one for
Elttaes. Prior to 1969, Gottstein had considered Campus Fusser the best horse
he ever raced. After the 1969 racing season was over, that honor went to a
gelding named after the family dog. The year before, Gottstein had paid $5,400
for a strapping colt by Six Fifteen at the WHBA summer yearling sale. Bred by
S. J. Agnews T9O Farm, the now two-year-old had almost a perfect season
five wins in six races (and one second), including a victory in the 32nd
Washington Futurity. He earned the title of not only champion juvenile male,
but Washington horse of the year. In addition, Gottsteins Glittering
Affair won the 1969 Washington Championship. The earnings of the two stakes
runners helped make Elttaes Farm the leading money-winning owner of the meet
with $80,977. It was Gottsteins only victory in the Washington Futurity;
a race that would later be renamed to honor Longacres founding father.
Other stakes winners which raced in
Gottsteins lime and chartreuse silks included Care for You, Sky Country,
*Great Discretion, Speed War, Quotable and Oppo.
first marriage to Hazel Elaine Holland in 1916 produced his only child,
daughter Joan, who was born 1919.
divorce, Joe married in 1935 for a second time. Seattle native, Luella Venino,
whose father, Professor A.F. Venino, was on the faculty of the University of
Washington Music School and whose mother was a concert pianist, had taught
piano prior to their marriage. Mrs. Gottstein, who had a Longacres stakes (the
Luella G. Handicap) named in her honor in 1979, died in 1989 at age 81.
Joan married prominent Seattle radio personality Morris
J. Alhadeff. She and Morrie had two sons, Michael, who races with his wife
Margie under the Once Stable nom de plume; and his younger brother Ken, who
races under his grandfathers Elttaes Stable banner with wife Marleen. Joe
would have been proud of the fifth generation horsemen in his family, his
great-grandchildren Aaron, Alison, Andrea, Matthew and Maggie.
A Lasting Legacy
always treasure the memories of a dedicated horseman, his wit, and wisdom
his charm and his fiery moments his love for the outdoors and the
Thoroughbred his sincerity and absolute loyalty.Ed Heinemann,
At the time of his death from lung cancer in
1971, appropriately on January 1 the universal birth date of all
Thoroughbreds he was running 13 businesses, but it was well-known that
he loved racing the best.
character, at once blustery and brooding, cantankerous, conciliatory and
colorful . . . Joe Gottstein, in the final analysis [was] an amazing human
being.Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1970.
Honors and Positions
President of the Washington Jockey Club (1933-1963)
Among the original 16 founders of the Washington Horse Breeders Association
Washingtons first Turfman of the Year (1958)
Washington Sports Hall of Fame (administrators)
Executive board of The
Jockeys Guild Foundation (1959)
Member of the board of the
Thoroughbred Racing Association (TRA) (1948-1960)
Founder of Glendale
Country Club, club champion golfer (1926, 1927)
Distinguished Citizenship Medal of the Veterans of Foreign
Honored for his coordination of a drive which earned $241,000
in improvements at the University of Washington School of Medicine (1970)
Special plaque at the National Shriners convention for his great
contributions to humanity and to shrinedom made so unselfishly (1969)
Laureate of Junior Achievement Puget Sound Business Hall of Fame (1999)
In 1976, the Joseph Gottstein Memorial Cancer Research
Laboratory was officially opened at the University of Washington. His family
and friends contributed greatly to its funding. A plaque bears this
inscription: In memory of Joe Gottstein whose life, like this
legacy, was a commitment to excellence.
Sources: The Washington Horse/Washington Thoroughbred;
The Blood- Horse; Daily Racing Form; Seattle Times;
Seattle Post-Intelligencer; The Games of Joe Gottstein, by
Patrick L. Dawson; interview with Kenneth Alhadeff; Renton Historical
for a complete list of all the Washington Hall of Fame inductees.