INGLEWOOD (CBSLA.com) — A horse was exhumed Saturday at the now defunct Hollywood Park Race Track.
CBS2’s Greg Mills was there and said archeology students from USC participated in the dig.
The horse was buried near the grandstand about eight feet down.
The students arrived just before 8 a.m. Saturday morning. By 5 p.m., they’d already dug far enough to expose the horse’s remains, including the ribs and hindquarters.
The dig was an unusual project for the students to undertake.
“It really gives them the chance to get hands-on experience,” said archeologist Sarah Newman.”It’s experience that is really hard to find.”
Richard Shapiro showed the student’s a lot of memorabilia about the horse — pictures, halter, newspaper clippings about the famous horse — Native Diver.
He wanted the students to have a more emotional connection with the dig.
“It was my whole childhood,” said Shapiro, “[the track] is what I grew up with. It was an unbelievable time.”
Mills said “unbelievable” would be a good way to describe Native Diver, too.
He was the first California-bred horse to win $1 million racing in Hollywood Park, Santa Anita and Del Mar.
“When he won, it was front page news,” said Shapiro.
Native Diver was also the first horse to win three gold cup races at Hollywood Park. He was among the immortals of the track.
“The first to win the gold cup was Sea Biscuit,” said Hollywood Park historian Edward Kip Hannan, “but he is right up there with him, he was one of the best.”
At the age of 8, old by racing standards, Native Diver won a race at Hollywood Park.
“When he raced here at Hollywood Park, there would be an extra 10,000-15,000 people here at the park on the days he would race,” said Shapiro.
Around that same time, Native Diver would also win a race at Del Mar but the horse died about nine days later. Shapiro was 14 at the time.
“It was devastating, he was family,” said Shapiro.
Native Diver will be re-buried at Del Mar — the site of his last win.