Today, California Flag, a five-year-old gelding, won the Turf Spring race in Santa Anita’s racetrack. The race is one of several that constitute the Breeders’ Cup, the event that, while not as well known to the general public as the Triple Crown races, is considered by most in the industry to be the biggest event in thoroughbred racing.
California Flag’s victory was especially popular because the horse is based in Murrieta, almost just around the corner from Santa Anita, at the Hi Card Ranch, a very small farm by the standards of the industry, with just three brood mares.
Hi Card is owned by 82-year-old Keith E. Card, who has been involved in breeding and racing for over half a century – first quarterhorses, then thoroughbreds. Card is a Montana native, but mostly raised in Long Beach. Growing up in that city, it was natural that he would join the Navy after he turned seventeen in 1944. An article about Card in the Riverside (California) Press-Enterprise says:
[He]was stationed at Kingsville, Texas. He worked as a go-fer for Richard Nixon, who was the executive officer at the base. Card was eventually assigned to a ship in San Francisco, but Nixon pulled him back to Kingsville. “The closest I got was to walk up the gangplank and salute the officer,” he said.
Lucky for Card that he never went to sea. The Japanese sunk the ship during World War II, and nobody survived the attack. Card likes to say that Nixon saved his life.
Now, a quick check of the Nixon biographies shows that there are no references to his being stationed at the Kingsville Naval Air Station in Texas – but in early 1945, after returning from duty in the Pacific, he did serve as chief administrative, rather than executive, officer at Alameda Naval Air Station in the Bay Area. I’m wondering if the future horseman might have been stationed at Kingsville, then was sent to Alameda and met RN there. Whatever the case may be, it’s good to know another member of the Greatest Generation is keeping active, and successful, in the autumn of his years – and that RN had something to do with that.