Native Diver

Native Diver (April 16, 1959 – September 13, 1967) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse. Native Diver's nicknames included "the Diver," "The California Comet" and "The Black Horse." He compiled 34 stakes wins throughout his career, but never won outside California or in any championships.

Native Diver
DamFleet Diver
DamsireDevil Diver
FoaledApril 16, 1959[1]
CountryUnited States
BreederMr. & Mrs. Louis K. Shapiro
OwnerMr. & Mrs. Louis K. Shapiro
TrainerBuster Millerick
JockeyJerry Lambert
Record81 Starts: 37-7-12
Major wins
Debonair Stakes (1962)
Malibu Stakes (1962)
Inglewood Handicap (1963, 1964, 1966)
San Diego Handicap (1964, 1965, 1966)
San Francisco Mile Handicap (1963, 1967))
Palos Verdes Handicap (1964, 1965)
Hollywood Gold Cup (1965, 1966, 1967)
Los Angeles Handicap (1965, 1967)
San Carlos Handicap (1965, 1967)
American Handicap (1965))
San Bernardino Handicap (1966)
San Pasqual Handicap (1966)
Del Mar Handicap (1967)
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1978)
#60 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Grade III Native Diver Handicap at Del Mar Racetrack
Last updated on 29 October 2020


Native Diver was bred and owned by Louis K. Shapiro and his wife, who had claimed his dam, Fleet Diver. She is the daughter of Devil Diver out of Our Fleet by Triple Crown winner Count Fleet. Despite the fact that her immediate lineage included members of Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century (Count Fleet at no. 5 and Devil Diver at no. 55), as well as the fact that Fleet Diver had just given jockey Johnny Longden his 4,000th racing win, Our Fleet's claiming price was $3,500. The Shapiros bought the mare in January 1954. Five years later, she produced Native Diver. He was by Imbros, himself a good racehorse, having set a world record in the Californian Stakes of 1954.

Racing careerEdit

At a young age, Native Diver injured his back and therefore often ran while holding his head high to ease the strain on his spine. He was gelded to calm him down, but it seemed to make little difference.

At two, Native Diver won his first three starts by a combined margin of 2334 lengths and was on his way to setting six career track records. He set three of those records while carrying 130 pounds. He was a versatile runner who could sprint at six furlongs or rate at nine, setting track records at both distances. He won stakes at six California racetracks, being the second horse ever to accomplish that feat.

At Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Native Diver won the Hollywood Gold Cup three times in a row, from 1965 to 1967, finishing faster each time. Jockey Jerry Lambert was on board for each Gold Cup win.

Death and legacyEdit

Native Diver was still racing at eight years of age; his owners vowed to retire him when he started to slow down. Eight days after he won the Del Mar Handicap in 1967, equaling the track record, he fell ill with colic. He was taken to the equine hospital at University of California at Davis and died there the next day.

Native Diver won 34 stakes races, was the seventh racing millionaire, and was the first California-bred horse to earn a million dollars. He is buried in the Garden Paddock at Hollywood Park under a monument designed by Millard Sheets. Upon Hollywood Park's closing in December 2013, his remains and the monument were to be moved to the Del Mar[2] infield near the top of the backstretch near several other horses and dogs. On March 8, the exhumation of the remains began led by University of Southern California archaeologists Lynn Swartz Dodd and Tom Garrison.[3]

The Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar Racetrack was named in his honor.


Pedigree of Native Diver (USA), brown gelding, 1959[1]
Imbros (USA)
Polynesian (USA)
Unbreakable Sickle
Blue Glass
Black Polly Polymelian
Black Queen
Fire Falls (USA)
Bull Dog Teddy
Plucky Liege
Stricken Pennant
Moody Mary
Fleet Diver (USA)
Devil Diver (USA)
St Germans Swynford
Dabchick Royal Minstrel
Ruddy Duck
Our Fleet (USA)
Count Fleet Reigh Count
Duchess Anita Count Gallahad
French Duchess (Family: 2-j)

See alsoEdit

Repeat winners of horse races


  1. ^ a b "Native Diver pedigree". Equineline. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2013-05-05.
  2. ^ "Native Diver Monument Moving to Del Mar".
  3. ^ "Linthicum, Kate (March 8, 2014), "A legendary racehorse will get a new resting place," Los Angeles Times, archived from the original March 8, 2014 at 8:31 pm pst

External linksEdit