For those of us that enjoy the games of sport, there are those special places that raise the hair on your arms. Down south, we call it a case of the chicken skin. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience it on more than one occasion at several different venues. Now we are going to elaborate on one such place that can get the juices flowing.

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is one of the most magnificent places on God’s green earth. Visit and you’ll understand what a hillbilly is talking about. Full of splendor, there is one section that is especially special. I call it the hall of heroes. One section of the clubhouse contains paintings of every Pacific Classic winner. Originated in 1991, this mile and a quarter drive over the Del Mar dirt has become the Seaside Oval’s signature race. Thankfully, some genius decided to immortalize these heroes with some well-placed brush strokes.

Upon my first visit to this slice of heaven, I remember wandering through and discovering the gallery of greatness. I saw the righteous renderings of runners like Best Pal, Dare and Go, Free House, Candy Ride, and of course Lava Man. Now that I have become a veteran visitor, I see the paintings of prolific ponies like Shared Belief, Game On Dude, Beholder, Accelerate, and the mighty California Chrome. Having seen those victors in person, it makes it even more special.

The great thing about these creations on canvas is they portray these athletes for what they really are…real heroes of sport. Each and every winner of the Pacific Classic represents the purest form of competition. None of them were running for money or personal greed. They just wanted to compete against others and prove they were the best on that day. There were no contract holdouts or renegotiations (except for maybe a bag of carrots). These four-legged phenoms were all running for the right reasons. Of course we realize the Pacific Classic’s million dollars in purse money has been an important part of the equation for the human aspect of the sport, but all of these heroes cared not. For me, that’s one of the things that makes all of these paintings even prettier. Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder…and as we previously mentioned, she is already on the wall.

Take a trip to this hall of heroes sometime and you too will understand.