Richard Saukko, who for 28 years rode the familiar white horse Traveler at USC football games, has died in Sepulveda. The cause of death was not immediately known. He was 72.
Saukko made his first appearance on Traveler I in 1961, wearing a costume worn by Charlton Heston in the movie "Ben-Hur." That costume proved to be too heavy, though, and Saukko made his own distinctive leather outfit, modeled after the one depicted on the Tommy Trojan statue on USC's campus.
Saukko rode at almost 200 football games over 28 years, until his retirement in 1988. He began the custom of riding around the Coliseum track after each Trojan score.
Saukko's first horse was half Arabian, half Tennessee walker and was named Traveler I, after the horse of Civil War general Robert E. Lee. Except for Traveler II, which USC bought and Saukko trained, all the horses were owned and trained by Saukko and his wife, Patricia, who survives him.