Mace & Samantha Siegel Honored

April 15, 2008
California Thoroughbred Horsemen

MACE & SAMANTHA SIEGEL

by Jay Hovdey

There is something historically fitting in the fact that Mace Siegel and his daughter Samantha are being honored by the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation. It was in 1978 that Gregson, still flying below the national radar as a trainer, was handed two horses owned by the Siegels and did just fine. Singular won the 1978 La Jolla Mile at Del Mar, while Ardiente won the 1979 Del Mar Handicap, along with the Cortez Handicap at Hollywood Park. As a result, Jan and Mace Siegel, of Miami and New York, were off and running in California, with a family racing romance that is still going strong.

Like any romance, though, there have been peaks and valleys, high notes and low. But if Mace Siegel has ever been discouraged, he doesn’t let it show.

“Racing can be quite frustrating, in more ways than one,” Siegel said. “But it’s a wonderful game, and we’ve had great fun.”

As the founder of Macerich in the mid-1960s, Mace Siegel built a company that has ranked for several decades among the leaders in the nation in terms of shopping mall development. Chances are if you’ve shopped at all in the past 30 years, you’ve shopped at a property owned by Macerich. Siegel is still chairman of the board.

However, Siegel never has used the considerable responsibilities of his company as an excuse to remain aloof from the affairs of his adopted avocation. The health and welfare of horse racing have been on his mind since the 1980s, when he formed the ad hoc organization TOAD, or Thoroughbred Owners Against Drugs.

“I still have a few TOAD buttons, and some TOAD stationery,” Siegel said with a chuckle, but he was on the square. Tongue and cheek as it may have been, TOAD conveyed a heightened need for a level playing field through investment in equine drug testing, aggressive investigations, and consistent, more effective penalties that have begun to evolve in California.

Gregson Foundation President Jenine Sahadi and dinner honoree Samantha Siegel

Siegel was among the founding members of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, an organization that has been replicated in many other states. He has been a consistent advocate for the rights of owners in an industry dominated by racing associations, and he has lent his support tirelessly to the cause.

“You can’t just stand by and let somebody else do it,” Siegel reasoned. “And I think the TOC made great progress. But in many ways, we are back to where we came in as owners, getting the short shrift when it comes to issues like the percentage of advanced wagering deposit handle. The good news is that the various owners’ groups around the country are starting to get together to speak as one.”

The Siegel racing stable was born of a racetrack love affair. Mace Siegel, a native of New Jersey, was a dedicated horseplayer who frequented the Long Island tracks. Jan Winston, a professional singer from Cincinnati turned New York real estate investor, had been a fan since her college days at the University of Kentucky, just down the road from Keeneland. Jan and Mace were set up on a blind date, which they spent–where else?–at Aqueduct.

Five months later it was wedding bells. Real estate and horse racing took it from there, along with their daughter, Samantha, named for one of Jan’s favorite songs.

Scholarship recipients, L-R, Marisol Barrera, Liliana Serrano, Robert Cisneros, Ruth Cayetano, Ivana Morfin, Daniel Inocente, pictured with Jenine Sahadi

As their business prospered, they dabbled in cheaper horses, then backed off for a few years before Singular and Ardiente lit their fire again. In a calculated gamble, Mace and Jan dived into the deep end at the 1987 and 1988 yearling sales, spending $3.5 million and setting up shop with trainer Brian Mayberry in California, where Macerich had become headquartered.

“We had to recognize that California has the toughest, most competitive racing in the country,” Mace said at the time. “And that if we were going to race here successfully, we had to have numbers. You really can’t have any delusions in this business. You can’t go around expecting to get lucky. I’ve been a horseplayer long enough to realize that.”

The ensuing list of outstanding Siegel runners is long and satisfying, beginning with such youthful stakes winners as Prospectors Gamble, Ramblin Guy, Distinctive Sis, Garden Gal, Zealous Connection, and Stormy But Valid.

Once proven as quality animals, the Siegel runners would venture East, hitting prime targets. Miss Iron Smoke won the Spinaway at Saratoga. Fluttery Danseur took the Sorority at Monmouth Park and the Beaumont at Keeneland, while Ifyoucouldseemenow nailed the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Jockey Jose Valdivia and wife Rene Valdivia

When the stable branched out to Kentucky and the East in the mid-1990s, a whole new crop of stakes winners emerged. They have included Miss Pickums, I Ain’t Bluffing, Love of Money, I Believe in You, and Suave.

So far, the stable’s best mare has been Urbane, a daughter of Citidancer who had the bad luck to be born in the same foal crop as Hall of Famer Serena’s Song. Urbane lost two photo finishes to Serena’s Song–in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes and the Santa Anita Oaks–then won the 1995 Ashland Stakes while Serena was busy beating the boys in the Jim Beam. When Serena’s Song was entered in the Kentucky Derby, Urbane was left as the odds-on favorite for the Kentucky Oaks. Alas, everything bad that could happen did happen that day, and after a nightmare of a trip, Urbane had to settle for second.

L-R, Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, wife Randi,
and Oak Tree Racing Assn. President Jack K. Robbins, DVM

“I still have a few TOAD buttons, and some TOAD stationery,” Siegel said with a chuckle, but he was on the square. Tongue and cheek as it may have been, TOAD conveyed a heightened need for a level playing field through investment in equine drug testing, aggressive investigations, and consistent, more effective penalties that have begun to evolve in California.

Santa Anita President Ron Charles and Jenine Sahadi

Later, as a 4-year-old, Urbane won the John Morris Handicap at Saratoga, the Geisha at Pimlico, and the Delaware Handicap, earning more than a million dollars along the way.

Jan Siegel passed away in 2002, and by then daughter Samantha had begun to play a major role in the stable’s operation. Mace and Samantha rebranded their operation Jay Em Ess Stable, in order to keep Jan’s memory firmly in the mix.

“Jan loved her horses,” Mace said, “and she hated to lose one in a claim. I remember one time Ron Ellis won a race for her but lost the horse. He was afraid to come to the winner’s circle, fearing her reaction.”

Jan was gone, but she would have been pleased to know that Ellis more than made up for any past transgressions in 2004, with his work for the best horse the Siegel’s ever owned. Picked out of a Maryland sale by Samantha, Declan’s Moon won the Eclipse Award that year as the champion 2-year-old male of North America.

He did it with style, too, going undefeated in four starts. One of them was a thriller in the Del Mar Futurity, in which he set a stakes record to defeat Roman Ruler. The clincher came in the Hollywood Futurity, when he defeated a field that included Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Wilko.

Ron Ellis, trainer of the Siegel’s 2004 2-Year-Old Eclipse Award winning horse Declan’s Moon, with wife Amy Ellis and Samantha Siegel

Then came that rollercoaster again. Declan’s Moon won his debut as a 3-year-old in early 2005, but injured a knee in the process. Since his return to the races, he has managed only one minor victory.

“The game is a constant puzzle,” Siegel said. “But a satisfying one. It’s difficult enough to win races, which is why we savor the ones we win.

“At the same time, the overall health of the sport needs to be stabilized here in California,” Siegel added. “We’ve got some real challenges facing us, with the prospect of having to replace Bay Meadows, and maybe even Hollywood Park down the line. I think it’s a good thing that as owners we have developed a rapport with the Indian tribes. They can help us politically, and they take the long view. The only way to preserve racing is to take the long view.”

Throughout his involvement in California racing, Siegel has backed up his passion with action, in roles of both leadership and philanthropy. Now Samantha is following in his footsteps.

“I would say that right now Sam makes about 98 percent of the decisions regarding the stable,” her proud father said. “And she is becoming more and more involved in key organizations, like the NTRA, and the TOC’s efforts to save retired racehorses.”

Like father, like daughter, in all the right ways.


Following are a few highlights of the Siegel’s
career in thoroughbred horseracing:
Provided courtesy of Santa Anita Park

  • Eclipse Award winner: Declan’s Moon, 2004 2-Year-Old Colt.
  • First Stakes winner: Wininreno in 1976 Julian Cole Handicap at Calder. The late John Tammaro was the trainer.
  • Perfect in four starts, Declan’s Moon was voted the Eclipse Award in 2004 as North America’s top juvenile following graded stakes victories in the Del Mar Futurity, Hollywood Prevue Stakes, and Hollywood Futurity.
  • Declan’s Moon, purchased by Samantha Siegel for $125,000 at the 2003 Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic September yearling sale, finished the year by earning $507,300 following his one-length victory over eventual Kentucky Derby champion Giacomo in the Hollywood Futurity.
  • After extending his unbeaten streak to five with a win in Santa Anita’s 2005 Santa Catalina Stakes – subsequently renamed in memory of Robert B. Lewis – Declan’s Moon underwent knee surgery to remove a bone chip from his left knee and missed the Triple Crown events in 2005.
  • Campaigned I Ain’t Bluffing, a multiple Grade I stakes winner, who won the La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita in December 1997 and the 1998 Milady at Hollywood Park.
  • Latin Dancer, a $210,000 yearling purchase, won five stakes in 1997, including Santa Anita’s Grade III Baldwin Stakes.
  • Arson Squad, purchased for $100,000 as a yearling, captured Hollywood Park’s $330,450 Swaps Breeders’ Cup Stakes in 2006.
  • Won Hollywood Park’s Landaluce Stakes three consecutive years from 1990 through 1992 following a victory in 1988. The late Brian Mayberry trained each of the victorious 2-year-old fillies.
  • Won three $100,000 stakes on the Gulfstream Park Breeders’ Cup program in 1989 with Tasteful TV, Stormy But Valid, and Edgy Diplomat.
  • I Believe In You shipped in from Kentucky to capture 2000 Hollywood Starlet. Trainer Paul McGee gained his first Grade I victory in the process.
  • Purchased first horse in 1964 at Timonium yearling sale and named her Najecam (Mace and Jan spelled backwards). She broke her maiden at age five.
Samantha Siegel
  • Jan Siegel, Mace’s wife and Samantha’s mother, died at age 69 in 2002 after a long battle with cancer. Husband, wife, and daughter campaigned horses successfully for many years.
  • Mace became interested in racing as a fan while growing up in New Jersey and later in New York. Jan became interested as a University of Kentucky student.
  • Mace met Jan on a blind date at Aqueduct racetrack in 1962. They were married two months and five days later. Jan was a singer with big bands and her favorite song was the Cole Porter hit, “I Love You, Samantha.” They decided to name their daughter after the song.
  • Mace owns Macerich Company of Santa Monica, which develops, owns, and manages regional shopping malls. He acquired his first mall in 1972. Macerich became the country’s third largest owner of regional malls.
  • Mace is a founding member of the Thoroughbred Owners of California.

Major Stakes Wins

  • A Gleam H. (GII-Hol) – Stormy But Valid (1990)
  • Aristides H. (CD) – Thisnearlywasmine (1998)
  • Ashland (GI-Kee) – Urbane (1995)
  • Baldwin (GIII) – Latin Dancer (1997)
  • Beaumont (GII-Kee) – Fluttery Danseur (GIII-1992)
  • Bel Air H. (Hol) – Prospectors Gamble (GII-1990)
  • Canterbury Park Derby (CP) – Latin Dancer (1997)
  • Delaware H. (GII-Del) – Urbane (GIII-1996)
  • Del Mar Futurity (GII-Dmr) – Declan’s Moon (2004)
  • Golden Rod (GII-CD) – Miss Pickums (2000)
  • Gravesend H. (GIII-Aqu) – Here’s Zealous (2001)
  • Hawthorne H. (GIII-Hol) – I Ain’t Bluffing (GII-1998)
  • Hollywood Futurity (GI-Hol) – Declan’s Moon (2004)
  • Hollywood Juvenile Championship (GIII-Hol) – Ramblin Guy (GII-1993)
  • Hollywood Prevue (GIII-Hol) – Declan’s Moon (2004)
  • Hollywood Starlet (GI-Hol) – I Believe in You (2000)
  • Personal Ensign H. (GI-Sar) – Urbane (1996)
  • Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies (TP) – Miss Pickums (2000)
  • Kentucky Jockey Club (GII-CD) – Ifyoucouldseemenow (GIII-1992)
  • La Brea (GI) – I Ain’t Bluffing (1997)
  • La Jolla H. (GII-Dmr) – Singular (GIII-1978)
  • Landaluce (Hol) – Distinctive Sis (GIII-1988); Garden Gal (GIII-1990);
  • Fluttery Danseur (GII-1991); Zealous Connection (GII-1992)
  • Las Flores H. (GIII) – Stormy But Valid (1990)
  • Maryland Million Oaks (Lrl) – Urbane (1995)
  • Matiara (Hol) – I Ain’t Bluffing (GI-1997)
  • Milady BC H. (GII-Hol) – I Ain’t Bluffing (GI-1998)
  • Railbird (GII-Hol) – I Ain’t Bluffing (1997)
  • Robert B. Lewis (GII) – Declan’s Moon (2005)
  • Robert K. Kerlan Memorial (Hol) – Latin Dancer (1997)
  • San Miguel – Thisnearlywasmine (1997)
  • San Pedro H. – Arson Squad (2006)
  • Santa Anita Oaks (GI) – Hedonist (1998)
  • Santa Monica H. (GI) – Stormy But Valid (1990)
  • Saratoga BC H. (GII-Sar) – Suave (2005)
  • Sen. Ken Maddy H. (GIII-OT) – Denim Yenem (1995)
  • Sorority (GIII-Mth) – Fluttery Danseur (1991)
  • Sorrento (GII-Dmr) – How So Oiseau (1994)
  • Spinaway (GI-Sar) – Miss Iron Smoke (1991)
  • Thoroughbred Club of America (GIII-Kee) – Ifyoucouldseemenow (1992)
  • Triple Bend H. (GI-Hol) Prospectors Gamble (GIII-1990)
  • Washington Park H. (GII-AP) – Suave (2006)