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David Nelson / Society

Horsing Around With Great Style Proves to Be a Winner

August 21, 1986|DAVID NELSON

RANCHO SANTA FE — Ah, the roar of the horse flesh, the smell of the crowd.

Thus goes the Del Mar Race Track, where wishful grabs at the brass ring cost just $2 a try, and flying hoofs are the stuff that dreams are made of.

For almost everyone, the betting windows, the paddock, the hot dog stands and the turf are the essential realities of the track, where pocketbooks open and empty at the nudge of a hunch, and lucky bets result in extravagant dinners and fantasies of further riches.

But there is another world at the track, a private universe of insiders--the jockeys, trainers, breeders and stable owners who present the show.

Some fortunate outsiders gained a peek at this private world on the occasion of the 55th birthday of super-jockey Bill Shoemaker.

Shoemaker (also known, if not necessarily to his liking, as "Shoe"), had his birthday Monday. He was given a rather festive assist by noted stable owner Cecilia (Cee) Straub-Rubens and her husband, Roy Rubens, who for the second year in a row tossed a cheery and lavish birthday supper for the jockey at Bertrand Hug's cozy Mille Fleurs restaurant.

To enjoy such luxuries as champagne and steak tartar canapes, the horsy set was invited en masse, making the guest list into something of a who's who in local and national racing circles.

Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye was in the crowd, and so was trainer Charlie Whittingham, whose most famous equine success story, Ferdinand, was ridden to the Winner's Circle at the last Kentucky Derby by The Shoe. Marge (Mrs. Jimmy) Durante, whose finish-line box at the Del Mar track sits next to the Rubens' and whose loyalty to the sport of kings is the stuff of legend, also made the scene. (Also present at the track to watch Shoemaker were Neil Reagan, brother of President Reagan, and Robert Strauss, who was chairman of the Democratic Party during the presidential candidacy of George McGovern.)

Shoemaker rode but one mount that day (Evil Elaine in the eighth race; it did not finish in the money, as several guests were heard to lament), but most of the guests had been at the track to watch him, and several reported having placed fortunate wagers. Among these was Betty Mabee, whose husband, John, is president of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Betty threw a luncheon party in the Directors' Room that day and reported that her guests, among whom were Virginia Monday, Audrey Geisel, Loraine MacDonald, Joanne Warren and Luba Johnston, all had taken $2 fliers on a longshot that paid winning tickets--a decidedly handsome $28. Also in the party was Jeanne Jones, for whom the Mabees have named a filly (they call it Jeannie Jones) which Betty described as "an outstanding filly, and one for which we have high, high hopes."

The Rubens' 150 dinner guests found themselves treated to a meal that included an entree of veal chop in Madeira sauce and slices of a special chocolate mousse birthday torte that, rather than being covered with candles, was drenched with raspberry sauce. This gracious conclusion to the meal made a special hit with little Amanda Shoemaker, who, with her mom, Cindy, attended to cheer The Shoe into the home stretch of his current birthday.

Del Mar Race Track General Director Joe Harper attended with his wife, Barbara, and the crowd also included television producer Ed Friendly and his wife, Natalie; Sally Tippett with concert pianist Leonard Pennario; noted trainer Noble Threewitt; Max Factor heir Sidney Factor with wife Dorothy; Dorothea McAnally; James Bowers; Tom and Mickey Cavanaugh; jockey Darrel McHargue with wife Robin; Dan and Erin Smith; Paul and Kathy Soupstad, and David and Anna Carmichael.

CHULA VISTA--The Multiple Sclerosis Moneymakers, an ambitiously named group that spends much of its time attempting to justify its name, gave its second annual "Sundown at the Ranch" party Saturday at the new EastLake development here.

The Moneymakers evolved as an answer to the dilemma encountered by the members of the Multiple Sclerosis Brunch Society (a singles' group that gives rather swanky fund-raisers) who left the ranks of singlehood to marry. The group actually welcomes a wide variety of members, and about 400 of them gathered before sunset to share in a lively odyssey through a land of make-believe.

This journey through the lands of fund-raising fantasy commenced on a Louisiana bayou, where guests nibbled at blackened redfish while sipping potent French Quarter Hurricanes and tapping their toes to the Bobby Gordon Trio's Cajun-spiced brand of Dixieland. Later, the group adjourned to the Southfork Ranch (the old Ewing place, as most folks know) for barbecued ribs and country-western dancing. The evening concluded with a disco party mounted in an area designed to resemble a familiar Southern California beach. Those guests with a propensity to test their luck against the odds retired to a casino; the top prize was a trip for two to San Francisco.

The co-chairmen's duties were shared by the husband and wife duos of Kenne Swink and Valerie Saint-Gaudens, and Van Oberdick and Gloria Najor-Oberdick. Among committee members were Michal Bledsoe, John Mommertz, Linda LaCom, Richard Seaver, Janie Phillips, Gina Zanotti, Michelle Dast, Teri and Richard Clark, Patrick Thomas, Wendy Gillespie, Barbara Kramer, Jan Coombs and Janet Jacobsen.

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