Donald Valpredo believes in the importance of service to the thoroughbred industry. It’s why he has spent more than 40 years on the board of every major organization in the state, beginning and continuing with the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
The CTBA first elected Valpredo to its board in 1972. For the next 18 years he served the organization in just about every capacity, including as president from 1986-90. One of Valpredo’s proudest accomplishments was helping to establish California Cup as a shining spotlight on California-bred racehorses, a series that in 2017 will have its 27th running.
To this day the California Cup Sprint bears Valpredo’s name.
“It’s such an honor to have a race named after you where you can present the trophy,” he said.
The CTBA has recognized Valpredo even further, choosing him for induction into its Hall of Fame.
The Valpredo family’s California roots trace to Don’s grandfather, Alfonso, a winemaker who emigrated to Burbank in 1898. The family business evolved and grew as it moved to the San Fernando Valley and then to its current home south of Bakersfield.
Valpredo Farms, headed by Don and his son, Michael, now grows a variety of vegetables, including onions, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, cabbages and cauliflower. It is also in the forefront of the organic farming movement.
Don’s grandfather, father, and uncle first bought thoroughbreds in 1941, racing in the name of Circle V Stables.
The family’s shocking pink and chartreuse silks — colors that Don still uses — trace to 1944.
Since that time, the Valpredo family has added much to the history of the Cal-bred. Dimaggio, bred and raced by Don’s father, John, was a graded stakes winner by Bold Hitter.
Dimaggio in turn sired another well-named graded stakes winner, Fifty Six Ina Row, as well as multiple graded winner Purdue King.
Don and John also brought several talented horses to California from Argentina, including Star Ball, Lucie Manet and El Vistobueno.
A longtime partnership between Don Valpredo and John Harris began when Valpredo wanted to buy the mare, In Prime Time. The two paid $51,000 for her, and she became the second dam of 1994 Cal-bred Horse of the Year, Soviet Problem, bred and raced by Valpredo and Harris. Soviet Problem is the second dam of Cal-bred champion, Unzip Me, bred by Valpredo and Harris and raced by them with additional partners. Graded stakes winner Compari, bred by Valpredo, Harris, and John Nicoletti, was one of Valpredo’s favorites.
“He was foaled at my ranch and always had a lot of personality,” said Valpredo.
Valpredo served two terms on the California Horse Racing Board, from 1990-98. During that time one of the things he pushed for was standardized saddlecloth colors, which remain in use today. Bettors, especially when watching a simulcast, can follow their choices much more easily because each number corresponds to a particular color.
From the CHRB, Valpredo moved on to the Thoroughbred Owners of California board, serving from 1999-2011, before returning to the CTBA board. He is currently finishing up service as the CTBA chairperson and will remain on the board.
Valpredo joins trainers Bob Baffert and Art Sherman as the 2017 Hall of Fame inductees.
“It’s a very great honor to be respected this way,” Valpredo said. “I’ve enjoyed every day that I’ve been involved in every level of the industry, from the backside to administration. I want to thank the board of directors and the membership for acknowledging me with this great tribute. It’s extremely meaningful.”