Pete Pedersen is a man of many talents and a master of them all. The Seattle native was born in 1920 and was present when Longacres opened its doors for the first time on August 3, 1933. Now 88, he has been involved with racing ever since.
At age 12, he began walking hots and selling programs at the Renton track. His first job working on the frontside entailed being a teletype operator for Seattle Post-Intelligencer turf editor Mike Donohoe. Later, his position in track publicity helped put him through school at the University of Washington where he studied journalism and rowed on the eight-man crew.
After college, he served in the Navy as a flyer during World War II. Upon his return from duty Pedersen was hired as Longacres’ director of publicity.
In 1947 Pedersen was hired by Tanforan (in Northern California) to be a steward’s aide during the Longacres’ off season. Those were the first steps in a journey that would last until his retirement in 2005 and lead to accolades such as “a veritable beacon of integrity,” as well as an Eclipse Award of Merit in 2002. He first served as a full steward at the 1948 Longacres meeting – where owner Joe Gottstein also kept him busy as director of publicity and as a member of the board of handicappers.
In 1951, the always versatile Pedersen was hired as a patrol judge by William Kyne, who had founded Bay Meadows and Portland Meadows. Pedersen became a permanent member of the California steward scene in 1955, adding Santa Anita to his territory in 1958 and Del Mar and Pleasanton in 1968.
To supplement his income, Pedersen became a freelance writer and gained recognition as one of the turf’s most astute authors. Among the publications that have featured his work are: Colliers, Liberty, Turf and Sport Digest, Thoroughbred Times, Daily Racing Form, San Francisco Chronicle, The Blood-Horse, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Horse and its newer incarnation –Washington Thoroughbred.
He was one of the earliest leaders of the North American Racing Officials and officiated during that first semi-turbulent Breeders’ Cup Day held in 1984 at Hollywood Park.
Earlier this year, Pedersen was honored with the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award, given to the individual who has served the sport with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction.
Pedersen currently resides in Arcadia, California, but makes a special point to return each year to his roots for the running of the Longacres Mile.