didn't really realize the part my family played in California history
until Laura Hillenbrand's book about Seabiscuit came out. Before
that, it was just a part of my life."
Charles Howard helped introduce the automobile to a once
motor-resistant California. He saved countless lives in the 1906
earthquake and fire in San Francisco by using his unsold Buicks to
get the injured to medical assistance and to evacuate people fleeing
the devastation. He helped build the Santa Anita Racetrack and gave a
depression-weary country a badly needed lift by racing Seabiscuit, an
icon of the underdog.
The blockbuster movie "Seabiscuit," which opened last week, is
based on the best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand, written in 2001.
It has refocused the spotlight on the Howard family and the horse
they, and an entire country, learned to love.
Saturday will be "Seabiscuit Day" at Del Mar Racetrack. One of the
horses that played Seabiscuit in the movie will be there. Members of
the Howard family and Universal Studios will present trophies to race
"You can't believe my phone since the picture opened," Malinda
Howard said. "I got one call from my contractor, Charlie Rohrer,
saying what a 'boo-hoo' movie it was.
"And you wouldn't believe the number of Laura's books I have
signed at the track."
Malinda Howard's elder brother, Michael, was aware of the family's
celebrity early on, according to their mother.
"He is a natural historian and he was always asking Marcela
questions -- and he remembered the answers," said Barbara Howard, who
married one of Charles' sons from his first marriage.
Marcela -- known to the family as Auntie Mar -- outlived her much
older husband by almost 20 years. She was the keeper of records,
newspaper and magazine stories and memorabilia, and it was to Michael
that she gave her scrapbooks. He donated them to the Thoroughbred
Racing Museum in Saratoga Springs.
Malinda Howard has the silks -- the red and white shirt and pants
worn by Seabiscuit's jockey. She wore the shirt to the movie premiere
in Westwood. Malinda Howard also owns the leather belt Marcela
studded with golden Seabiscuit or horse-related charms, as well as a