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Photos: Archaeologists Dig Up Old Bones Of Hollywood Park's Legendary Racehorse
USC archaeologists and students dug up the remains of a legendary racehorse from Hollywood Park before the racetrack undergoes construction.
The iconic racetrack closed its gates on Dec. 22 to make way for a new mixed-use commercial and residential complex. Over the weekend, the archaeology team exhumed the bones of Native Diver, the first California-bred horse to win over a million dollars and 34 stake races (still holding the title for most Hollywood Gold Cup wins along with another horse), reported the AP. The eight-year-old horse died in 1967 from colic and was so revered that he was buried at Inglewood's Hollywood Park.
Robert Shapiro, the 60-year-old grandson of Native Diver's owner didn't want to leave the beloved racehorse at the site where his bones would have been destroyed during construction, reported the AP. He got in contact with USC's archaeology department to help dig him out.
“He’s racing royalty,” Shapiro told the AP. “You couldn’t leave a horse like this beneath a real estate development.”
Turns out Native Diver's bones were in nearly perfect condition and it looked as if he were still in a racing position, according to KABC. "The first thing we thought was 'wow, that's a big horse,' but it turned out that he landed on his right side and sort of fell into a position where his legs were extending out. It looked like he was still running his last race," said USC professor Tom Garrison.
Native Diver's remains are being moved to San Diego's Del Mar racetrack where he will be held until they find him a new burial site. Bye for now, Native Diver!