Sat, 3/8: USC Dornsife Students to Excavate, Preserve Prize Racehorse “Native Diver” Buried at Hollywood Park Race Track

March 7, 2014

Contacts: Michelle Boston,, (213) 821-9311 or Merrill Balassone,, (213) 740-6156

WHAT: A team of students and archaeologists from the USC Dornsife College will be participating in an archaeological excavation to unearth the remains of prized racing horse Native Diver, who is buried at Hollywood Park Race Track.

The race track ceased operations in December 2013, and Native Diver, a California-bred winner of three Hollywood Gold Cups in the mid-1960s and a member of Thoroughbred racing’s Hall of Fame, is buried in a monument on the race track premises.

USC alumnus Richard Shapiro, the grandson of Native Diver’s owner and breeder Louis K. Shapiro, reached out to USC to arrange for the excavation. Once exhumed, Native Diver’s remains will be shipped to Del Mar Race Track and stored there until a new burial site is prepared.

Facts about Native Diver:

• The first horse bred in California to earn over $1 million in the 1960s.

• When he died he was the 8th “richest horse” of all time.

• In 18 starts, he won 37 races.

• He won 34 Stakes, the highest level of races, which to this day is still a world record.

• He won 3 consecutive Hollywood Gold Cup races, the richest race in California at the time.

• He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame located in Saratoga, New York.

• He set many track and world records for running times during the period of his career.

• He raced until 8 years old, a very long duration for race horses.

• He was born and raised at on the Shapiro’s family farm in Canoga Park, California.

WHEN: Saturday, March 8, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The excavation may continue on Sunday, March 9. Contact Lynn Swartz Dodd at (310) 210-4081 to confirm.

WHERE: Hollywood Park Race Track, 1050 S Prairie Ave, Inglewood, CA 90305

Parking: Once inside main lot, head straight toward small employee lot, turn right into paved area with palm trees. Continue straight to excavation site at the Native Diver monument. Park in lot nearby.


• A team of USC Dornsife students

Lynn Swartz Dodd, archaeologist, USC Dornsife Department of Religion and curator of USC’s Archaeology Research Center

Tom Garrison, archaeologist, USC Dornsife Department of Anthropology

• Sarah Newman, archaeo-zoologist, specialist in ancient animal bones