Obituary courtesy of Santa Anita Park.
Pete Pedersen, who received racing's highest honor, died Sunday due to complications from a recent fall at his Arcadia home. He was 92-years-old.
Pedersen was an iconic and highly respected figure in the Stewards’ Stand at and throughout California.
Born in Washington state July 4, 1920, Pedersen began his racing career as a teenager, when he worked in construction and helped build the now-shuttered Longacres. The track opened Aug. 3, 1933 near Seattle.
A trained journalist, Pedersen found employment as a teletype operator at Longacres, and eventually became the track’s publicity director.
Pedersen would also go on to write and report on racing for The Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Daily Racing Form and BloodHorse Magazine.
“This is a sad day for all of us who knew Pete,” said in a media statement. “Pete Pedersen was a highly respected steward, not just because of his judgment, but because of the way he conducted himself and the way he treated all of those that he oversaw — from the backside to the top jockeys in the world.
Pete was a first class guy and while not everyone is going to agree on matters such as disqualifications and riding suspensions, his character was beyond reproach and everyone knew Pete was fair, even-handed and a man of his word. He dedicated his life to racing at a very young age and his love and devotion to the game were always in evidence. He’ll be greatly missed.”
Pedersen worked in California as a racing official for 50 years and became a steward in 1979, a position he held until his retirement in 2005.
“When I saw my first horse race, I thought it was the most exciting, stimulating, throat-clutching, provocative and inexact spectacle one would ever witness. Nothing has changed my mind since,” he told Bloodhorse Magazine.
Legendary Hall of Fame retired jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., rode the Charlie Whittingham-trained Perrault to a nose victory over John Henry in the 1982 Santa Anita Handicap. However, he was subsequently disqualified following a lengthy inquiry by a three-member Board of Stewards that included Pedersen.
“To me, he was a very fair man and a very fair steward," Pincay said of Pedersent. "I always felt like when I left the Stewards’ Office, he had treated me fairly and with respect...That meant a lot to me as a young rider and later in my career.”
Hall of Fame retired jockey Eddie Delahoussaye echoed Pincay’s sentiments.
“Pete lived a great life. He was a good guy and he was fair. He was always a gentleman and I never heard a bad word about him from any of the other riders and that was because of the way he handled himself. He was great for the game,” he said.
Pedersen’s racing resume included 50 years as an official in California, presiding over some of the nation’s most prestigious events, such as the inaugural Breeders’ Cup in 1984 at Hollywood Park and three Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita in 1986, 1993 and 2003.
Pedersen is survived by his longtime partner, Marlene Crain, and sons Craig and Michael from a previous marriage.
Funeral services will be private.