McFadden series named in honor of "the father of Oregon Horse Racing"

McFadden series named in honor of "the father of Oregon Horse Racing"

The name McFadden and Oregon horse racing go back a long way, in fact they go back to times before there was horse racing in the state.  Pari-mutuel wagering made its way to Oregon because of Julian McFadden, who wrote and passed the bill in 1933 in his first year as a legislator in Oregon, which allowed pari-mutuel wagering to come to Oregon.  The sport has grown over the decades in this state, but the story of the man with whom Portland Meadows pays tribute to with the McFadden Memorial Spring Claiming Series is an interesting one.

Julian McFadden was born in 1874 in Corvallis, Oregon.   His father was the first judge in Corvallis and he convinced Julian to go to law school.  However upon returning from law school, he got into the horse racing business and also, the meat and stock business.  In 1912 the McFadden Farm was opened in Corvallis by Julian and it still operates to this day and is the longest running active farm for race horses in the state. He spent much of his early years as a young man owning, breeding and training racehorses all along the West Coast, starting in 1918.  In the 1920’s and early 30’s, he could be found running as far north as Canada, as well as down south in Tijuana and Juarez before Santa Anita Park opened up on Christmas Day, 1934.   By trade, he was a stock man, buying up pigs, cows, goats, and of course cattle.  He drifted into the meat business and opened up two slaughterhouses as well as two meat markets called The People’s Market in Corvallis.

Julian was elected to the Oregon State Legislature in 1933 and the first thing he did was write, lobby and pass a bill to get pari-mutuel wagering legalized.  He was immediately appointed by the Governor as the first racing commissioner for the first Oregon Racing Commission.  Immediately a investor named Murray Kent came to Portland and opened up a dog track in downtown where Jeld-Wen Field is now located.  They funded the Racing Commission with the dog track.  Julian McFadden wasn’t done bringing racing to Oregon. 

While down in California he spoke with a businessman he had come to know named William Kyne, who while the two were at Bay Meadows Race Track in suburban San Francisco, McFadden urged him to come up to Portland and open up a race track.  The seeds were planted for what in 1946 became Portland Meadows.  McFadden was around quite a bit in the early days of Portland Meadows, and attended regularly until his passing in 1952.  But before and after his death, the McFadden legacy in Oregon horse racing continues. 

Julian’s daughter Mary raced horses for years and managed the family farm for decades after Julian’s passing.  She even won Portland Meadows’ most historic race, the Portland Mile on two occasions.  Mary was married to a horse trainer named Art Goldblatt and their children have also been involved in horse racing over the years, and still are to this day.  Their son Art is a local businessman who owns the McFadden farm still to this day.  He operates the Rialto off-track betting parlor in downtown Portland and owns racehorses that run at Portland Meadows in the orange and black silks of his beloved Corvallis, Oregon based Oregon State Beavers.   Over the years Art worked and managed Portland Meadows for a time, announced races at Portland Meadows and Salem, and was even the racing secretary at numerous meets.  Art’s brother Julian was a colonel in the military, but also owned and bred many runners.  Art’s children have continued the family’s involvement in racing as well, as his son Tim was an owner for a time, and his son Brian has worked on the gate crew at Portland Meadows as well as working jobs at Salem and Golden Gate Fields. 

Portland Meadows is excited to pay tribute to Julian McFadden and his legacy as the “Father of Horse Racing in Oregon” with the McFadden Memorial Sprint Claiming Series.  The event will culminate on December 7th with a $26,900 final purse.  Horses will try to earn points in Leg 1 and Leg 2 of the series, with the top 12 point earners making their way to the finals on December 7th.