For decades, the California Thoroughbred Foundation has been caretaking an impressive and growing collection of equine literature in modest offices in Arcadia — across Colorado Place from the storied thoroughbred racetrack known as Santa Anita Park.
Now the California Thoroughbred Foundation, a nonprofit foundation dating to 1958, has agreed to donate the trove of books, magazines and breeding and racing publications to Cal Poly Pomona’s University Library. The Carleton F. Burke Memorial Library collection has been housed in the offices of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, where the California Thoroughbred Foundation shares office space.
The University Library plans to relocate the collection to the campus and catalog the holdings so that they can be made available and publicly accessible to scholars around the globe.
University officials said they were delighted that Cal Poly Pomona would serve as the collection’s new home. The extensive materials will broaden the scope of the library’s existing Arabian horse collections to cover more equine history about the region and California.
“Cal Poly Pomona’s legacy in agricultural and equine education and scholarship represents a core component of who we are as an institution,” said Cal Poly Pomona President Soraya M. Coley. “Without a doubt, this unique collection will add immensely to the already tremendous research and scholarly resources available at the University Library.”
“We are honored that the California Thoroughbred Foundation selected Cal Poly Pomona as the permanent home for this collection,” said Jennifer Brown, Cal Poly Pomona’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The acquisition of the Carleton F. Burke Library complements the collections of the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library and expands the focus of special collections to encompass thoroughbred history.”
Burke was an important figure in the world of thoroughbred racing. He was the first chair of the California Horse Racing Board, director of racing at Santa Anita and a secretary-treasurer of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association. He and his wife, Myrtle, bred thoroughbreds in Hidden Valley, California. He was an avid polo player, and he spent hours researching racing and breeding. Burke died in 1962, and the California Thoroughbred Foundation subsequently renamed its library in his honor.
The Thoroughbred of California magazine featured a report about the March 1964 dedication of the “Carlton F. Burke Memorial Library.” It described Burke as having “set an example of integrity and sportsmanship within the industry” during the sometimes turbulent years of racing’s rebirth. Burke helped to re-establish the sport in the 1930s after a California anti-wagering law dealt the sport a fatal blow in 1909.
Among the items on the foundation’s shelves that will head to Pomona are bound volumes of Daily Racing Form chart books and the American Racing Manual; C.B. Glasscock’s “Lucky Baldwin,” about the founder of Santa Anita; copies of the Pocket Racing Calendar dating from the early 1800s; modern volumes about breeding; and a set of titles by Henry Hall Dixon (1822-1870), a sporting writer of “Post and Paddock,” “Silk and Scarlet” and other books about racing, fox hunting and jockeys, who was known by his nom de plume, the Druid.
On the title page of “Mason’s Farrier and Cattle Book,” from the New York publisher Hurst & Co., is a penciled-in notation: “circa 1827.” The book’s subtitle is a doozy: “Comprising a General Description of the Horse: With Modes of Management in all Cases, and Treatment in Disease.”
The library includes books and other items from Burke’s personal collection as well as donations from other noteworthy figures in the equestrian community, such as the late Kent Cochran, a California turf writer.
An “Ex Libris” note glued inside “Admiral Rous & the English Turf 1795-1877,” by T.H. Bird, indicates that the 1939 volume about laws and practice of racing in Britain “is available in our library as a generous donation of Mr. Carleton F. Burke.” A hand-scrawled note to Burke on the dust jacket reads: “Thought this might amuse you as it did me. Merry Xmas. Skid.”
Also on the shelves are memoirs by and biographies of jockeys, training manuals and horse encyclopedias and dictionaries of various vintages.
Cal Poly Pomona will also acquire some of the colorful and historic framed jockey silks that line the hallway in the Arcadia offices.
The California Thoroughbred Foundation, which awards scholarships to veterinary students, has maintained the Burke collection but acknowledged that it lacked the resources to preserve and manage the various elements, many of which date from the 1800s or earlier and are in extremely delicate condition.
One key factor in the foundation’s decision to donate the collection was that it would remain nearby. Cal Poly Pomona is about 25 miles east of the racetrack, which stages some of the most prominent U.S. horse-racing events.
“We have been privileged to own this unique collection and open it to the public,” said Ada Gates Patton, the foundation president and a trailblazing female farrier. Gates Patton was the first woman licensed to shoe thoroughbred racehorses in the United States and the first female inspector of horses at the Tournament of Roses Parade. Members of the California Thoroughbred Foundation represent the variety of professionals within the industry who share a love of the California thoroughbred horse.
With the acquisition, the University Library can bolster its efforts to document regional history and support the curriculum of Cal Poly Pomona’s growing equine studies minor.
Rare books and archival collections offer students, faculty and scholars the opportunity to conduct research and explore areas of interest using primary source materials. In some cases, a research project using special collections can open new worlds and inspire a lifelong passion in a student.
In other cases, Cal Poly Pomona students and alumni find that special collections are related to their career interests and personal passions. Tyler Frausto, a Cal Poly Pomona alumnus who works in the racing industry, learned of the collection and visited one day to explore.
“As a Cal Poly Pomona alum, I never thought I’d be in the racing industry,” said Frausto, ownership and wagering liaison at Santa Anita Park. “Looking through the library on campus previously and exhibits, it’s amazing to see the sport I’m in love with be showcased at my alma mater.”
One researcher who can barely rein in her enthusiasm about the Burke library acquisition is Katrin Boniface, founder of the Equine History Collective and a doctoral candidate in history at UC Riverside.
“I am so excited,” said Boniface, who studies early modern horses and horsemanship. “For me personally, it’s very relevant to my research into late 19th and early 20th century U.S. horse breeding. I’m looking at these networks where different breeders might trade their horses [in transactions] that aren’t necessarily visible from just looking at the race or show records.”
Inside one book, donated by the L.A. Turf Club, is an elegantly printed card that reads: Compliments of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Cal Poly Pomona exists because of W.K. Kellogg, the cereal magnate who established an Arabian horse-breeding ranch in 1925 in Pomona. The ranch served as Kellogg’s winter home until 1932, when he donated the horses and property to the University of California. The property passed through many owners — including the U.S. Army, which bred cavalry horses there — before ultimately being transferred to the California Department of Education and becoming the campus of Cal Poly Pomona. The university has continued the Arabian breeding program.
Katie Richardson, University Library department chair and head of special collections and archives, credited Susan Kellogg-Bell, the magnate’s great-great-granddaughter, with linking the parties. Kellogg is a consultant and Cal Poly Pomona Philanthropic Foundation board member.
“The University Library is delighted to be the stewards of this exciting collection and is indebted to Susan for making the connection,” Richardson said. “This acquisition marks an expansion of our focus, since we are typically known for documenting the history of the Arabian horse and not the thoroughbred. We hope to be an epicenter for the study of equine history in California.”
Cal Poly Pomona’s existing collections encompass architectural drawings, Kellogg’s correspondence about the construction and operation of the ranch, guestbooks and scrapbooks, photos and ephemera.
“We are thrilled to continue on with W.K.’s great passion, tradition and vision for making his horses and education accessible to all,” Kellogg-Bell said. “Cal Poly Pomona will house one of the most significant collections devoted to equine history west of the Mississippi.”